This month saw the US Court of Appeals made a landmark decision in a high-profile case against Uber. The case of Meyer v. Uber Technologies confirmed the application of Californian law following the precedent of previous rulings by the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In essence, Meyer accepted Uber's Ts&Cs, which define an arbitration procedure Meyer did not want to use to mediate a dispute with Uber because the procedure was felt to be one-sided. Meyer denied active acceptance; the court disagreed.
Despite a plethora of cases that enforce these terms, it seems many courts remain sceptical of consumer and employee agreements that they view as 'one-sided', especially as many users will, by their own admission, not have read them.
This is not the first time Uber has faced challenges to arbitration provision. It has, for example, been obliged to reach legal agreements with its own drivers before. Furthermore, in the case of Metter v. Uber Technologies, Inc, the Northern District of California denied Uber's motion to compel arbitration on the basis that their user was 'without inquiry notice of Uber's terms of service and without understanding that registering is a manifestation of assent to those terms.'
The big take-away from this case is the need for corporate change: it is essential that companies with consumer-facing products ensure that their methods of assent comply with best practices in this rapidly evolving area of the law.
Meanwhile, companies with arbitration clauses applicable to Californian consumers should review their arbitration provisions immediately and consider whether changes to their terms may be required.