After several years of refusing to adopt special rules applicable in mass arbitration proceedings, JAMS announced that it has issued Mass Arbitration Procedures and Guidelines and a Mass Arbitration Procedures Fee Schedule effective May 1, 2024.  The Mass Arbitration Procedures apply “only where the Parties have agreed to the application of these Procedures in a pre- or post- dispute written agreement.”  The Procedures must be specifically referenced in the parties’ arbitration agreement or agreed to after a dispute arises.

Arbitration practitioners will be particularly interested in the following features of the Mass Arbitration Procedures and Guidelines:

  • A “mass arbitration” is defined as “75 or more similar Demands for Arbitration, or such other amount as is specified in the Parties’ agreement(s), filed against the same Party or related Parties by individual Claimants represented by either the same law firm or law firms acting in coordination.”
  • A Demand for Arbitration must be submitted for each Claimant and “must be accompanied by a sworn declaration from counsel averring that the information in the Demand is true and correct to the best of the representative’s knowledge.”
  • The filing fee is $7,500, regardless of the number of cases.  In consumer cases brought against a company, the most that the consumers, in the aggregate, can be required to pay is $2,500.  The company pays the remainder of the filing fee and is also responsible for all Case Management Fees and the fees of the Process Administrator (described in the following paragraph).
  • After the Filing Fee is paid a “Process Administrator” is assigned to determine preliminary and administrative matters “as may be necessary to ensure the orderly and efficient resolution of the claims brought in a Mass Arbitration, consistent with the terms of the controlling agreements, procedural fairness and the integrity of the Arbitration process.”  Such matters include, inter alia:
    • Whether the Parties have met the filing requirements of the Procedures;
    • Whether conditions precedent relating to the commencement of the Mass Arbitration have been met;
    • Which Demands for Arbitration, including subsequently filed Demands, should be included as part of the Mass Arbitration;
    • Which JAMS Rules apply to the proceedings;
    • Whether to batch, consolidate or otherwise group the Demands or claims in the Mass Arbitration, for purposes of discovery, arbitrator appointments, merits hearings or otherwise;
    • The location(s) of the merits hearing(s);
    • Disputes about the interpretation and applicability of the Procedures and whether threshold jurisdictional and arbitrability disputes are arbitrable.
  • If the parties have not agreed on a method for selecting merits arbitrators, the Process Administrator shall, after consulting with the Parties, determine the selection process.  The same Arbitrator may be assigned to multiple cases. 
  • Unlike other providers, JAMS does not include either mandatory mediation or test cases in the Procedures.

The JAMS Mass Arbitration Procedures and Guidelines were issued shortly after the American Arbitration Association (AAA) revised its mass arbitration rules in January 2024.  We will be watching to see how courts react to JAMS’ and AAA’s efforts to balance the interests of both mass arbitration and defense counsel.