Structure Of CFPB Found To Be Unconstitutional But Agency Survives With Cut To Director’s Power

by Carlton Fields
Contact

The DC Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the single-director structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) was unconstitutional, and gave the President the authority to fire the director at will in order to provide a check on the CFPB’s expansive power.

The background of the case can be found here. PHH, a mortgage lender, was the subject of a CFPB enforcement action regarding allegations that it referred consumers to mortgage insurers who then purchased reinsurance from a PHH subsidiary. The captive reinsurance agreements, according to the CFPB, were an illegal kickback scheme and violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (“RESPA”) that resulted in a $109 million order against PHH. PHH sought to vacate the order. In its appeal, PHH argued that the CFPB, an independent agency headed by a single Director, violates Article II of the Constitution.

The D.C. Circuit agreed with PHH that the single-director structure given to the CFPB by Congress in the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act left the CFPB’s top official without any check on its authority as the director could only be fired by the President for cause. However, rather than dismantling the CFPB, the Court determined that giving the President the authority to fire the director at will would address the question of accountability at the CFPB. In this regard, the Court stated: “The president is a check on and accountable for the actions of those executive agencies, and the President now will be a check on and accountable for the actions of the CFPB as well.”

The Court also found that the CFPB violated PHH’s due process rights by applying a retroactive penalty against PHH, finding that its captive reinsurance agreements violated RESPA. First, the Court noted that the CFPB had reinterpreted RESPA, a rule it inherited from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”), in a way that invalidated HUD’s previous interpretation. HUD’s interpretation was that captive reinsurance arrangements were lawful “as long as the mortgage insurer paid no more than reasonable market value to the reinsurer for reinsurance actually furnished.” According to the Court, “[r]etroactivity — in particular, a new agency interpretation that is retroactively applied to proscribe past conduct — contravenes the bedrock due process principle that the people should have fair notice of what conduct is prohibited.” The D.C. Circuit also found that the CFPB was wrong in asserting that it could bring an administrative case beyond the three-year statute of limitations provided under RESPA. Noting that the CFPB could theoretically bring an action for a violation that occurred a century ago, the Court noted that “[w]e need not wait for an enforcement action 100 years after the fact. This court looks askance now at the idea that the CFPB is free to pursue an administrative enforcement action for an indefinite period of time after the relevant conduct took place.”

Thus, the D.C. Circuit vacated the CFPB’s order and remanded for the CFPB to determine whether consistent with RESPA’s three year statute of limitations, the mortgage insurers paid more than reasonable market value for the reinsurance to PHH’s captive reinsurer. PHH Corp. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, No. 15-1177, (D.C. Cir. Oct. 11, 2016).

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.

© Carlton Fields | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Carlton Fields
Contact
more
less

Carlton Fields on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.