On The Record!
Congressman Alex Mooney asks of CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger: “…the American Bar Association and the National Creditors Bar Association have both stated their opposition to the safe harbor provision in (the CFPB proposed Debt Collection Rules). Would you be open to reconsidering the proposed safe harbor rule for a meaningful attorney involvement?”
This pointed question was part of Congressman Mooney’s (R-WV) testimony as he took the opportunity to voice his concerns regarding the “safe harbor” for meaningful attorney involvement on July 31, 2020 when CFPB Director Kraninger appeared before the House Financial Services Committee for a hearing entitled, “Protecting Consumers During the Pandemic? An Examination of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.”
NCBA and the American Bar Association have been vocal in their filed comments and meetings with the CFPB that the meaningful attorney involvement “safe harbor” contained in the CFPB’s proposed debt collection rule is a flawed concept and should be removed.
Congressman Mooney stated, “for hundreds of years, attorneys have been regulated and disciplined primarily by state Supreme Courts that license them and by the state court judges, not by the federal agencies. I feel that the proposed rule change the CFPB on debt collection could jeopardize this norm, the CFPB safe harbor proposal to codify the meaningful attorney involvement doctrine is intended to clarify regulation for creditor attorneys, but I fear we do exactly the opposite. The meaningful attorney involvement doctrine appears nowhere in the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or the Dodd-Frank Act. The concept has gone far beyond the statute, creates uncertainty and confusion over the rules regulating attorneys.”
He then directed a question to Director Kraninger, “I feel that the CFPB's proposed safe harbor rule for meaningful attorney involvement and debt collection could lead to the codification of meaningful attorney involvement doctrine, bring further uncertainty, the American Bar Association, and the National Creditors Bar Association have both stated their opposition to the safe harbor provision in this rule. Would you be open to reconsidering the proposed safe harbor rule for a meaningful attorney involvement?”
Director Kraninger responded, "So, it is a proposed rule, Congressman. So, I'm -- I actually have not heard those organizations' opposition, but I imagine that I will hear it soon because we're going through all of the comments now. We did get thousands of comments on this rulemaking and as it comes forward to me in terms of recommendations and decisions, I absolutely will take those comments in to account.”
NCBA sincerely thanks Congressman Mooney for highlighting this issue and for his consistent support for the independence of the practice of law over the past years.
It is an incredible feeling to hear NCBA’s name mentioned prominently at a Congressional hearing for the first time, and to know this important position is now on the record and on the Director’s radar.