Maryland Prohibits Engaging in Certain Anticompetitive, Unfair, or Deceptive Acts

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Maryland recently revised its Financial Institutions laws, effective July 1, 2022, to expand the coverage of prohibitions on acts or practices that are anticompetitive, unfair, deceptive, abusive, or injurious to the public interest. Specifically, the state will prohibit: (i) issuing an advertisement or making a representation that is false, misleading, or deceptive; (ii) imposing, as a condition for a loan, a restriction on obtaining credit, property, or service from a competitor unless the restriction is reasonably necessary to secure the loan; (iii) imposing, as a condition for a service, a restriction on obtaining credit, property, or service from a competitor; or (iv) engaging in an act or a practice that is anticompetitive, unfair, deceptive, abusive, or injurious to the public interest.  Such prohibitions apply to the newly defined “regulated persons,” which replace the term “licensed persons” and are defined to include persons required to be licensed or registered under the Financial Institutions Article, collection agencies required to be licensed under the Business Regulation Article, or persons required to be licensed by or registered with the Maryland Commissioner of Financial Regulation (Commissioner) under applicable provisions of the Commercial Law Article, whether or not such license or registration is maintained, as well as persons otherwise engaging in activity subject to a provision of law, regulation, rule, or order over which the Commissioner has jurisdiction.  These prohibitions also generally apply to a financial institution (or a subsidiary or affiliate of a financial institution) whenever such entity engages in activity: (i) for which it maintains or is required to maintain a license or registration issued by the Commissioner or the State Collection Agency Licensing Board; or (ii) subject to a provision of law, regulation, rule, or order over which the Commissioner has jurisdiction, other than activity subject to any of Titles 3 through 9 of the Financial Institutions Article (regarding banking institutions, credit unions, credit union share insurance, and savings and loan associations).

The recent legislation made a number of other revisions to provisions in the Financial Institutions Article regarding the Commissioner, including, among other things, a replacement of the term “licensed person” with “regulated person” (defined above) in provisions addressing how a Commissioner may act (e.g., whether it may share information related to regulated persons), and an expansion of the Commissioner’s enforcement powers in the event of a violation of applicable provisions (e.g., adding the ability to require making restitution to persons aggrieved by the violation).

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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