4 posts from January 2024

A Uniform Law Project of Note: Special Deposits Act

posted by Melissa Jacoby

Last week, bolstered by a continuing legal education program offered by the American Law Institute, I started studying a new uniform law that will be recommended to your state legislature in the coming days and months. It is called the Special Deposits Act. As of today it has not yet been enacted by a state legislature. But trust me when I predict that you want to study it too - especially because the choice of law rules will work differently for this uniform law than for, say, the digital assets amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code. In other words, if one of the green states in the map below adopts the law, parties can contract for that state to govern the special deposit as well as to be the forum for disputes, even if there's no other relationship with that state.

 

Special deposit act

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A special deposit is payable on the occurrence of a contingency and the identity of the party entitled to the funds is uncertain until the contingency happens. Right now, the law governing special deposits is nonuniform and the details can be uncertain, including the rights of creditors against those funds. One big impact of this uniform Special Deposits Act is this: in broadest terms, if a bank and depositor agree that a deposit account is a special deposit, and it meets the requirements for permissible purpose under the law, this law says that the funds in that account are not property of the depositor, including if the depositor files for bankruptcy, and cannot be reached by the depositors' creditors. (Fraudulent transfer law still applies and the drafters say there are other anti-fraud measures in place). The bankruptcy world may be interested in this law for an additional reason: possible use of special deposits in a bankruptcy case to pay professionals, or for large numbers of claimants, etc.

I also find this law interesting because of its implications for loans secured by deposit accounts under Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. Even if a bank has a security interest in all deposit accounts of a debtor held by a bank, and is automatically perfected by control, the bank's enforcement rights are far more limited against the special deposit than against a typical bank account. In general, the bank cannot exercise rights of setoff or recoupment against a special deposit.

Again, as of today no state has enacted the Special Deposits Act. But given how the law is drafted, it will take just one state to adopt it, and for lawyers to encourage banks and depositors to opt in to that state's law, to have a much broader effect. Check out the materials here.

Catching Up on the Digital Asset Amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code

posted by Melissa Jacoby

It has been a while since I last posted resources on amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code that would govern transactions in digital assets, including security interests. The take-up of these amendments, including a new Article 12, has not been as swift and sweeping as some might have hoped. To put it mildly, some in the cryptocurrency world have lobbied hard against enactment based on what seems to be a misinterpretation (to help set things straight, I recommend reading and listening to professors Juliet Moringiello and Carla Reyes). Currently, 11 states have enacted the amendments. Article 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thorny choice of law issues flowing from non-uniform enactment inevitably will land in bankruptcy courthouses, as so many legal quandaries do. For example, choice of law will affect whether or not a lender has a perfected security interest in the debtor's interest in cryptocurrency, an issue that can arise in a wide variety of bankruptcies. Here is a collection of Uniform Law Commission resources in case you need them.

Rapoport on Judicial and Legal Ethics

posted by Melissa Jacoby

Just wanted to make sure Credit Slips readers are aware of Professor Nancy Rapoport's new paper forthcoming in the Emory Bankruptcy Developments Jounrnal, accessible here. The abstract:

In late 2023, news stories picked up stories about a lawsuit alleging that Bankruptcy Judge David Jones of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas had been hearing cases in which his live-in romantic partner was appearing as counsel. The Fifth Circuit began disciplinary proceedings, and Judge Jones resigned from the bench. The scandal has affected more than just these two people: it implicates law firms, and potentially implicates other lawyers or judges who might have known more than they were saying. This article explores who had a duty to disclose this particular “connection,” and under what authority.

Again, paper available here:

The CFPB's Proposed Overdraft Regulation

posted by Adam Levitin

The CFPB proposed overdraft regulation came out today. It's a big deal. If it becomes effective, it will dramatically reduce overdraft fees at large banks.

Currently fees for “courtesy” overdraft—where the financial institution is not contractually obligated to allow the overdraft, as opposed to contractual overdraft lines of credit—are not “finance charges,” so the overdraft is not “credit” for purposes of the Truth in Lending Act/Regulation Z because credit requires either a finance charge or a requirement of repayment in over four installments. That means that TILA disclosure requirements do not currently apply to any courtesy overdrafts. 

The CFPB is proposing changing this for overdrafts that don't fall within a dollar amount safe harbor.

Continue reading "The CFPB's Proposed Overdraft Regulation" »

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