The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Payday Loan Rule (the “Rule”), with a looming compliance deadline in August 2019, is facing yet another attack—this time from trade groups seeking relief directly from the courts. On April 9, 2018, two payday lending industry trade associations — the Community Financial Services Association of America, Ltd. and the Consumer Services Alliance of Texas — filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) and its Acting Director, Mick Mulvaney, seeking an order enjoining and setting aside the Rule.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB” or “Bureau”) has been an agency under fire. Acting Director Mick Mulvaney has begun to institute significant changes at the Bureau. And last year, a panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the Bureau’s leadership structure – a single director who can be removed only for cause – violates the separation of powers requirement of Article II of the U.S. Constitution. But in a long awaited en banc decision, the D.C. Circuit reversed that panel’s decision. Rather, in PHH Corp. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the court held that the Bureau’s structure is consistent with separation of powers principles. As discussed below, businesses subject to the CFPB’s supervisory and enforcement authority will need to continue to remain vigilant.
Through its recent en banc decision in PHH Corp. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the D.C. Circuit reinstated the holding of the three-judge panel regarding the safe harbor provision in Section 8(c) of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). Specifically, the court reaffirmed that under Section 8(c), payments made by one settlement service provider to another do not violate Section 8(a), even if made in connection with a captive relationship or a referral, when the payments are reasonably related to the market value of the goods, services, or facilities provided. Although potentially overshadowed by the portion of the en banc court’s holding that the leadership structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is constitutional, the panel court’s reinstated holding regarding RESPA’s Section 8(c) safe harbor is notable and important for the simple confirmation that the safe harbor “is what it is.”
To read the full alert, click here.
Today, January 16, 2018, officially marks the effective date of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s final rule targeting what it refers to as “payday debt traps” (the “Rule”). As outlined in our previous publications (found here and here), the Rule marks a significant change in the landscape for lenders offering short-term loans or longer-term loans with balloon payments, including payday and vehicle title loans. Looming large is the new requirement that lenders determine a borrower’s ability to repay prior to originating covered loans.
The United States Supreme Court recently declined to review a ruling that courts, not arbitrators, determine the availability of classwide arbitration. Previous attempts by putative collective or class representatives to obtain certiorari on the issue were unsuccessful. See, e.g., Opalinski v. Robert Half International Inc., 61 F.3d 326, 330-35 (3d Cir. 2014) (“Opalinski I”) (For K&L Gates’ coverage on the denials of the prior petitions see here and here). The Court’s most recent decision in Opalinski v. Robert Half International Inc. suggests that the Court still does not perceive sufficient disagreement, if any, among the federal courts of appeals on the issue. 677 F. App’x 738, 740 (3d Cir. 2017) (“Opalinski II”). As a result, the trend continues that the availability of classwide arbitration is a gateway issue for the courts.
The President signed this week the congressional joint resolution nullifying the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) arbitration agreements rule. Following adoption by the House, the Senate, in a 50-50 split with the Vice President breaking the tie, voted last week to approve the resolution (noted in a previous post here). The CFPB can only reinstate the rule, or one that is similar, if Congress expressly authorizes it to do so in subsequent legislation.
Over the last several years, a number of U.S. state and federal government enforcement actions have challenged the viability of the bank partnership model that many marketplace lenders have used to fund consumer and small business loans. Specifically, regulators have argued that, in partnerships where the non-bank entity controls much of the funding process or the bank has little-to-no risk of loss, the non-bank entity is the “true lender.”
After weeks of speculation, the U.S. Senate voted on Tuesday night to join the House of Representatives in passing a Congressional Review Act (“CRA”) resolution to nullify the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (“CFPB”) recent arbitration agreements rule. The Senate vote split 50-50, with two Republican senators—Senators Lindsey Graham (SC) and John Kennedy (LA)—voting against the resolution. The split vote set the stage for Vice President Mike Pence to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the resolution, which is now headed to President Trump’s desk for signature. In the hours after the vote, the President released a statement indicating his support for the resolution.
More than two months after its promulgation, the fate of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) arbitration agreements rule remains uncertain. The Senate may ultimately join the House and invoke the Congressional Review Act (CRA) to nullify the CFPB rule. But several financial services trade groups are not waiting to find out and have commenced their own legal challenge to the rule. On Friday, September 29, 2017, over a dozen such groups—led by the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America—filed suit against the CFPB, and its director Richard Cordray, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. See Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief, Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, et al. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, et al., No. 3:17-cv-02670-D (N.D. Tex. Sept. 29, 2017).