As discussed at length here, in January 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ruled that the U.S. securities class action lawsuit brought against Toshiba by investors who had purchased the company’s unsponsored Level I American Depository Receipts (ADRs) in the U.S. can proceed. As discussed in the following guest post from the Norton Rose Fulbright law firm and AIG, this ruling has important implications for non-U.S. companies whose ADRs trade in the U.S., as well as for companies contemplating issuing ADRs in the U.S. For more background on the risk of securities class actions and public companies via ADRs please see AIG’s earlier white paper on the subject. I would like to thank Norton Rose Fulbright and AIG for allowing me to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this blog’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. The memo follows below.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Post-Toshiba U.S. Securities Litigation Risk for Non-U.S. Companies

As I have previously noted, the dramatic recent rise in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and in transactions involving cryptocurrencies generally has been accompanied by a number of securities class action lawsuits alleging, among other things, that the digital currencies’ issuers or sponsors failed to register the coins or tokens as securities with the SEC as required by the federal securities laws. These lawsuits raise a number of novel and interesting issues, including jurisdictional issues and other concerns arising from the cross-border nature of many of these transactions. On August 7, 2018, in a detailed decision in the securities class action relating to the 2017 Tezos ICO, Northern District of California Judge Richard Seeborg ruled on a number of these threshold issues. Among other things, Judge Seeborg’s decision contains an interesting analysis of the place of the ICO transactions took place in order to determine whether or not the U.S. securities laws apply. Judge Seeborg’s order can be found here.
Continue Reading Tezos ICO Securities Suit Dismissal Motion Denial Addresses Key Threshold Issues

One of the questions that courts have wrestled with as they have struggled to apply the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Morrison is whether or not the U.S. securities laws apply to transactions in American Depositary Receipts (ADRs). In the U.S. securities class action lawsuit filed against Toshiba in the wake of the company’s massive accounting scandal, the district court granted the company’s motion to dismiss on the grounds that the Exchange Act did not apply to the plaintiffs’ over-the-counter (OTC) transactions in the company’s unsponsored American Depositary Receipts (ADRs). The plaintiffs appealed. In a July 17, 2018 decision, the Ninth Circuit reversed the dismissal and remanded the case in order for the plaintiffs’ to have the opportunity to try to plead facts that might be sufficient to establish that the securities laws apply, notwithstanding the fact that the ADRs were unsponsored. The Ninth Circuit’s opinion can be found here.
Continue Reading 9th Circ. Reverses Ruling That U.S. Securities Laws Do Not Apply to Toshiba’s Unsponsored ADRs

daimlerFollowing the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2010 decision in Morrison v. National Australia Bank (here), the lower federal courts have set about implementing the Morrison decision’s holding that the U.S. securities laws do not apply extraterritorially. One issue that the courts have wrestled with is whether or not the U.S. securities laws apply to over-the-counter (OTC) transactions in the U.S. of a foreign company’s American Depositary Receipts (ADRs). A series of recent cases suggest the courts are closer to having these issues sorted out. Most recently, a May 31, 2017 decision by Central District of California Judge James Otero held, consistently with other recent federal district court decisions, that the U.S. securities laws do apply to OTC transactions in Daimler, A.G.’s sponsored level 1 ADRs.  A copy of Judge Otero’s decision can be found here.
Continue Reading U.S. Securities Laws Apply to OTC Transactions in Daimler’s Sponsored ADRs

utahPrior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 2010 decision in Morrison v. National Australia Bank, U.S. courts held that the U.S. securities laws could be applied extraterritorially if there was sufficient fraudulent conduct or were sufficient effects from that conduct in the U.S.  In Morrison the Supreme Court rejected this “conduct or effects” test, ruling that the U.S. securities laws apply to allegedly fraudulent transactions, not to alleged fraudulent conduct or its effects, and further that the securities laws apply only to domestic transactions. However, within days after the Morrison decision, the U.S. Congress, as part of its enactment of the Dodd-Frank Act, purported to provide the SEC and the U.S. DOJ “jurisdiction” to pursue enforcement actions based not on transactions in the U.S., but rather based on conduct or its effects in the U.S.

Despite the passage of time, no court reached the question of how to interpret and apply this Dodd-Frank provision in light of the Morrison decision – until now. In a detailed March 28, 2017 decision (here), District of Utah Judge Jill N. Parrish held, notwithstanding Morrison and in reliance on the Dodd-Frank Act provision, that the SEC may bring an enforcement action based on transactions outside the U.S. and involving non-U.S. residents if there was sufficient conduct in the U.S. The ruling potentially has important implications for U.S. regulatory authorities’ reach for securities enforcement actions involving foreign actors or non-U.S. transactions.
Continue Reading U.S. Securities Enforcement Authorities’ Extraterritorial Reach Under Morrison, Dodd-Frank Act

David Topol
maggie thomas
Margaret Thomas

In its June 2010 decision in Morrison v. National Australia Bank, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the U.S. securities laws do not apply extraterritorially. Since then, the lower U.S. federal district courts have struggled with applying Morrison in securities lawsuits involving foreign issuers. A host of recent U.S. lawsuits involving high-profile foreign companies has highlighted the important questions that can arise under Morrison. In the following guest post, David Topol and Margaret Thomas of the Wiley Rein law firm survey the post-Morrison case law, particularly as relates to lawsuits filed in U.S. courts under U.S. securities laws against companies domiciled outside the U.S. I would like to thank David and Maggie for their willingness to publish their article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is David and Maggie’s guest post.
Continue Reading Guest Post: Post-Morrison Application of U.S. Securities Laws to Foreign Issuers

vwDuring the more than six years since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in Morrison v National Australia Bank, the lower courts have worked out a host of issues about how Morrison applies in a variety of circumstances. One issue that has continued to percolate is the question of how the Morrison decision applies to non-U.S. companies that have American Depository Receipts (ADRs) trading over- the-counter (OTC) in the U.S.

These issues arose again the U.S. securities class action lawsuit that Volkswagen ADR investors filed against the company and related defendants based on allegations involving the company’s recent high-profile vehicle emissions scandal. The Volkswagen defendants argued in reliance on Morrison that the U.S. securities laws do not apply to the OTC transactions in the company’s ADRs. In an interesting January 4, 2017 opinion (here), Northern District of California Judge Charles R. Breyer held that the U.S. securities laws do indeed apply to over-the-counter transactions in the U.S. of Volkswagen’s sponsored Level 1 ADRs.
Continue Reading Court Holds U.S. Securities Laws Apply to OTC Transactions in Volkswagen’s Sponsored ADRs

gavelOne of the practical effects of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Morrison v. National Australia Bank is that, as a result of the decision, it is more difficult to bring a class action in a U.S. court under the U.S. securities laws against a company based outside the U.S. The Court rejected earlier standards allowing U.S. courts to consider securities suits against non-U.S. companies if conduct relating to or effects of an alleged fraud took place in the U.S. Instead, the Court said that U.S. securities laws apply only to “transactions in securities listed on domestic exchanges, and domestic transactions in other securities.”

At the time of the Morrison decision, the expectation was that the number of U.S. securities class action lawsuits filed against non-U.S. companies would decline. As it has turned out however, the number of securities lawsuits filed against non-U.S. companies in each of the years since Morrison has been greater than the number filed in the years prior to the decision. Indeed, for the past several years, non-U.S. companies have been likelier to get hit with a securities class action lawsuit than domestic companies.
Continue Reading The Continuing Question of Morrison’s Applicability to ADR Transactions

porscheOn August 16, 2014, in a long-awaited decision that is sure to provoke comment and that could fuel disputes in future cases, the Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the securities suits hedge fund purchasers of certain swap agreements had filed against Porsche and its executives.

 

The plaintiffs contended that because they had completed the