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Ruling by US watchdog deals big blow to banks

Consumer agency adopts rule prohibiting financial firms from forcing customers into arbitration in disputes

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The move by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau would free consumers to band together in class-action lawsuits that could cost banks and other financial firms billions of dollars.

New York

The US consumer watchdog adopted a rule on Monday that would pry open the courtroom doors for millions of Americans by prohibiting financial firms from forcing them into arbitration in disputes over their bank and credit card accounts.

The action, by the Consumer Financial

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