Courts in the financial center of New York and the tech hotspot of California tend to be where much of the headline grabbing securities law action usually takes place. But this week, the most significant action is in Washington, D.C., as the Supreme Court and Congress are weighing into several of the hottest topic under the U.S. securities laws.
First, on Monday, November 30, 2009, the Supreme Court granted the petition for writ of certiorari in the National Australia Bank case. As a result of taking the case, the Supreme Court is likely to confront generally the question of extraterritorial application of the U.S. federal securities law and will address specifically the question of when U.S. court can properly exercise jurisdiction over securities law claims of so-called "f-cubed" claimants (that is, foreign investors who bought their shares in foreign-domiciled companies on foreign exchanges.) Background on the NAB case can be found here.
Second, and also on Monday, November 30, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in the Merck Vioxx case, in which the Court will address the question of what is required in order to establish "inquiry notice" sufficient to trigger the two-year statute of limitations for private securities lawsuits under the ’34 Act. Background on the Merck case can be found here.
Third, on December 2, 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Senator Arlen Specter’s proposed legislation entitled "The Notice Pleading Restoration Act of 2009," which is calculated to set aside the U.S. Supreme Court’s holdings in the Twobley and Iqbal cases. These cases define standards for threshold pleading issues in all federal civil cases, including securities cases. A discussion on the background on the significance of the Iqbal decision for securities cases can be found here.
A link for the Senate Judiciary Committee session, which is entitled "Has the Supreme Court Limited Americans’ Access to Justice?," can be found here. The Committee hearing will be webcast and a link of the webcast can be found on the Committee’s hearings webpage.
Each of these developments has potential to work sufficient alterations to important aspects of the securities laws or to their application.
The NAB case potentially could represent a very significant milestone on the issue of the overseas reach of domestic securities laws in a global economy. The Merck case, though focused on a technical statute of limitations issues, could have important practical consequences (particularly these days when for whatever reason plaintiffs’ lawyers increasingly seem to be filing cases belatedly). Finally, Senator Specter’s bill could produce significant changes on the threshold pleading standards for all civil cases, including securities cases.
A November 30, 2009 Law.com article (here) suggests that the Supreme Court showed substantial skepticism that there were sufficient "storm warnings" earlier on that would have put plaintiffs on "inquiry notice" sufficient to trigger the running of the statute of limitations. Ashby Jones also has an interesting post on the WSJ.com Law Blog (here) about the oral argument.
Soon Everyone Will Have a Blog: A column in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal reports (here) that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinajad maintains a blog, called "Mahmoud Ahmadinajad’s Personal Memos." (No link supplied here, it just seems ill-advised to visit the site). Not only does Ahmadinajad have a blog, but his blogging experience is one to which many bloggers – including your humble correspondent — can relate. The column reports that Ahmadinajad "allots himself 15 minutes a week to write his blog, but admits that at times, he exceeds this limit."
Yes, it really is hard finding time when you have important things to blog about, particularly when that pesky day job can interfere with important blogging activities. (For the record, I allot myself more than 15 minutes a week for blogging.)