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Most Americans believe that if they suffer some harm or endure some wrong, they can bring their grievance to a court. There they believe justice will prevail and the scales of justice will right their wrong. Sadly, that right is often foreclosed before they even realize they have suffered any harm.

One problem is dealing with large, national and international corporations. An individual typically lacks the resources necessary to take on a billion dollar corporation, but they may believe that if the harm they suffered was also suffered by thousands or millions of other individuals, they may still be able to bring their grievance to a court of law as part of  a class action litigation.

But individual consumers need to be aware that they often lose this right when they enter into a contractual relationship with the company. This is because many of these agreements often include “waivers” of your rights, even when you have no idea of what those rights are and what it means to waive them.

These clauses often affect a waiver of your right to sue in court as an individual and as part of a class action. That you have done so when you use a credit card or cellphone unknowingly does not appear to affect the willingness of courts to enforce such clauses.

Freedom of contract presumes two parties of equal bargaining power coming to an agreement. This hardly describes most contractual agreements most people encounter in their lives.

It seems at some point the validity of a system founded on such a premise could be seriously undermined.

The Legal Intelligencer, “Take Advantage of Class Action Waiver Protections,” Ronald L. Hicks, January 20, 2015