Daaaaaaa-rryl...

posted by Adam Levitin

We're talking softball, from Maine to San Diego...  

We're talking Homer,

Ozzie and the Straw...

281574-Strawberry

The IRS is auctioning off a deferred annuity the Mets owe to Darryl Strawberry (yup, the Mets are still paying for Darryl).  What does this have to do with the Slips besides our love of the Simpsons? The annuity had been subject of a bankruptcy dispute between the Service and Strawberry's ex-wife. And, let's not forget the Wilpon family's experience with the Madoff bankruptcy.

Mortgage Servicer Privity with Borrowers

posted by Adam Levitin

A lot of the mortgage servicing litigation over the past seven years has faltered on standing issues. Does the borrower have standing to sue the servicer? This has been a problem for RESPA and HAMP suits, where there are questions about whether there is a private right of action, as well as for plain old breach of contract actions. The point I make in this post is that borrowers almost always have standing to sue the servicer for a breach of contract action arising out of the mortgage loan contract itself because the servicer is an assignee of part of the mortgage note. This was an issue that lurked in the background of a case I recently testified in, and I think it's worth highlighting for the Slips readers.  

A lot of courts have misunderstood the nature of the servicing relationship vis-a-vis the borrower and assumed that because the servicer is not expressly a party to the note and security agreement that there is no privity between the borrower and servicer and hence the borrower cannot maintain a breach of contract suit.  That's wrong. The servicer is not on the note or the security agreement, but the servicer is an assignee of the note, just like the securitization trust, and that provides all the privity needed for a breach of contract suit.  

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Catching up

posted by Stephen Lubben

I've been remiss in cross-posting my Dealb%k columns. Both of the most recent ones have commented on the ABI's chapter 11 reform proposal. You can find them here.

Waiting for RUFO

posted by Mark Weidemaier

It looks like much of December will be spent sitting around the RUFO sickbed, waiting for the clause to expire of natural causes on December 31. The clause, recall, prevents Argentina from "voluntarily" giving holdout creditors a better deal than the one given to restructuring participants. When the RUFO clause expires, we will see whether country officials viewed it as a serious barrier to negotiation or, rather, as a convenient excuse to justify their refusal to negotiate.

In the interim, however, there are some potentially interesting developments on the horizon:

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For the Soul of the Party: the Budget Showdown and Financial Reform

posted by Adam Levitin

Will we have an appropriations bill before a government shutdown? The fight over the 2015 Appropriations Bill is now focused on one of the non-appropriations measures stuck onto the bill by the House GOP. That provision would repeal section 716 of the Dodd-Frank Act, which prohibits bailouts of swap entities and pushes certain types of particularly risky swaps out of insured depositories. Section 716 might be thought of as the "Banks Aren't Casinos" provision of Dodd-Frank.

On the surface, the fight about section 716 looks like a partisan squabble. But the real issue is the internal Democratic Party struggle going on because if the Democratic leadership doesn't force party discipline in opposing the appropriations bill with this provision, the appropriations bill will likely pass. The outcome of the internal Democratic debate is frankly more important than whether section 716 gets rolled back. (I write that because I don't think the no-bailouts prohibition in section 716 is credible or that any prohibition on bailouts can be credible. When things get hairy, we'll bail, law be damned.) No, what matters here is how Democrats line up. The fight over section 716 is a struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party.

Continue reading "For the Soul of the Party: the Budget Showdown and Financial Reform" »

What the ...?

posted by Stephen Lubben

Just received this month's ABI Journal. I surely can't be the only one who finds the ad for the BMC Group – inside the front cover – obnoxious, even offensive (I'm not going to dignify it by reproducing it). I get that sex sells ... but in a bankruptcy journal, advertising a claims agent?

Why the World Hates Lawyers

posted by Adam Levitin

Why does the world hate lawyers?  Because of stuff like this.  You can't make this up:  the on-line menu prices for a Chinese restaurant weren't up-to-date, and a customer was overcharged $4. I get being pissed about that.  But what would most people do?  Just lump it, stop patronizing the restaurant, ask the restaurant for a refund, or complain to the credit card issuer. But in this case, the customer has a JD (and to make it more delicious, happens be a Harvard Business School professor). The professor decides to go all legal on the restaurant, demanding $12, as treble damages under Massachusetts' unfair and deceptive acts and practices (UDAP) statute, MGL 93a (even citing the statute!).  

I get why people would be hating on the professor for that alone. But here's what really peeves me. He gets MGL 93a wrong!!!  (I happen to teach this statute.) The professor is demanding something that he almost assuredly cannot get under law.

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Bar Examiners Abandoning Commercial Law

posted by Jason Kilborn

StudyrejectedExams are on my mind this time of year, and I'm disappointed that bar examiners are increasingly regarding commercial law as unimportant. Earlier this year, the National Conference of Bar Examiners announced that Negotiable Instruments/ Commercial Paper (UCC Articles 3 and 4) will no longer be tested in the essays they draft for about 30 states. And just before Thanksgiving (ironically?), the Louisiana Sup. Ct. Committee on Bar Admissions abruptly announced that Secured Transactions (UCC Article 9) would no longer be tested on the Louisiana exam at all--this after years of very heavy testing of that material twice a year since Louisiana adopted the UCC in 1990. And California has long excluded all but a smattering of the UCC from their bar exam--no Negotiable Instruments, and no Secured Transactions (except for fixtures). What is the deal?! Is this a trend in other jurisdictions, too? As a longtime commercial law professor, I'm feeling very unappreciated by bar exam authorities.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

What Qualifies an Investment Banker to be a Regulator?

posted by Adam Levitin

As the Antonio Weiss nomination contest heats up, I'd like to pose a question that seems to be taken for granted by Weiss's supporters, namely that he's obviously qualified for the job.  As far as I can tell, Weiss's chief qualifications are that (1) he's an investment banker and (2) he's a major Obama donor, who (3) professes Progressive sympathies. (It's awesome that he bankrolls the Paris Review, but surely that's not what qualifies him.)  

Weiss isn't Obama's only donor, and his Progressive bona fides seem to consist of co-authoring a Center for American Progress piece in favor of progressive (small p) taxation.  So really the case for Weiss's qualification comes down the the fact that he's an investment banker. His investment banking experience appears to be in mergers and acquisitions, and at an investment bank that does not have a depository.  Why on earth does that qualify him to be the Undersecretary for Domestic Finance?  

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Another Tribute to Jean Braucher: On the Lighter Side

posted by Nathalie Martin

Bob’s post made me cry. Jean was an incredible scholar and colleague. She also had a fun, light side that I will forever cherish, and that I share here. 

I met Jean about 18 years ago through my mentor Bill Woodward (formerly of Temple University Law, now at Santa Clara Law), Jean and Bill were very close academic friends and he thought Jean and I would also hit it off.  He was right. From the very beginning, she helped me with everything from casebook selection to choosing (and negotiating) my job here. Not too long after I moved to New Mexico Law, Jean moved to the Arizona Law faculty. Bill used to ask me “do you ever see Jean out there?” as if we’d now run into each other regularly, since we lived just 7 hours apart by car. The west is a big place, for all your easterners out there, but actually, Bill was on to something. Whatever the reason, Jean herself became a mentor and close friend.

We organized a few conferences together, most recently at Washington and Lee in 2011 with Jim Hawkins (Houston law Center). Wherever we were, we always stayed up late, drinking and gossiping and just having fun. One year at Richard Alderman’s Conference in Houston, my husband said “that’s it, no more hanging out with Jean Braucher” (Mary Spector you were also implicated)

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Tributes to Jean

posted by Bob Lawless

BraucherOur friend and co-blogger, Jean Braucher, passed away a week ago today. Our first post here on Credit Slips had only a few paragraphs about her contributions to our professional community. There was a lot more to say about Jean.

Since that time, a number of comments have made their way into my inbox or were posted on to that original post. The comments have come from practicing attorneys, academics, judges, and journalists and from all over the United States as well as Europe, Australia, and South America. If you sent me a longer comment, I hope I have done justice to it below in excerpting it, and my apologies if I mistakenly omitted some. Here is what people wrote about Jean.

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Jean Braucher, In Memoriam

posted by Bob Lawless

It is with great sadness that I pass along the news that Jean Braucher passed away yesterday. Jean was my co-author, my co-blogger, and my friend. This news came suddenly this morning for all but her closest family and friends who were aware of her illness. 

The official record will show that Jean was a giant among bankruptcy and contracts scholars. Her work on local legal culture in bankruptcy courts is one of the standard references on the topic. As Dov Cohen and I were trying to understand the disparities we were seeing in our data among local bankruptcy courts, we turned to Jean. She joined our research team, and her understanding of the very fine detail of how the bankruptcy courts worked in action made the project's experimental materials a success. Jean also was widely known for her work on contracts law, being one of the authors of the seminal Contracts: Law in Action textbook.

That is the official record. I last saw Jean just in October at the symposium in honor of Bill Whitford where Jean presented her latest work. Bill exhorted us to study how the law actually worked and how it actually worked for the least-privileged in society. Jean lived that research ethos and spread it to others. She helped to nurture a small gathering at the Law & Society Association that has grown into a section of close to 100 household finance experts from around the globe. She was continuing to play a leadership role for that group while encouraging the next generation of scholars to become leaders in their own right.

Looking back at what I have written seems a paltry overview of the big footprint that Jean leaves in the  academic world. Her work touched so many others. Tomorrow I will give thanks that Jean was part of my professional life.

In the coming days, I hope to gather thoughts and remembrances of Jean into a longer blog post. If you knew or worked with Jean and have something to pass along, please email me.

Update (12/2/2014): A new post collects comments that were emailed to me. I have closed the comments on this post and encourage new comments to be left on the new post.

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