Friday, December 30, 2011

Jurist tough on settling parties in mortgage crisis litigation

Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission had to defend their proposed settlements to U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who according to the Wall St. Journal is "No Mr. Nice Guy." The SEC apparently considers factors including losses suffered by investors as a result of the alleged wrongdoing in weighing how much the company benefited from the behavior and whether they will be hurt by a penalty. Judge Rakoff was skeptical why Citigroup's penalty is less than one-fifth the penalty paid by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in its $550 million settlement with the SEC last year over a different mortgage-bond deal. Likewise, Judge Rakoff forced Bank of America and the SEC to come back with a 50-page statement and a higher penalty. He reluctantly approved the revised deal, quoting "the great American philosopher Yogi Berra" in a ruling. The judge says he saw in private practice how delays and gamesmanship made the American legal system too slow and expensive for the average person. See related stories at: and

Friday, December 16, 2011

With all troubles in EU, Germany backs mediation

German parliament, the Bundestag, voted unanimously this week in favor of a new mediation law to implement a 2008 European Union guideline for the use of mediation in civil and commercial conflict. The move gives new legal weight to mediation by creating a more defined role for mediators acting in tangent to a court proceeding. Just as in the U.S., there is apparently a long wait to get a day in court and, of course, the outcome is unsure, while the risk remains high. Mediators reportedly earn an average 250 euros an hour, but parties to disputes still save substantial court costs. See more on this international development that sounds an awful lot like what we have going on in our own backyard: