Twenty-six Democratic members of the House Financial Services Committee pressed Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton Monday to not reverse the commission’s longstanding policy of prohibiting public companies from including mandatory arbitration clauses in their corporate governance documents.
Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif., both members of the Subcommittee on Capital Markets and Government-Sponsored Enterprises, told Clayton in a Monday letter that Congress has repeatedly passed laws recognizing that private securities fraud class actions are “an indispensable tool with which defrauded investors can recover losses without having to rely upon government action.”
As a matter of public policy, the lawmakers wrote, “there is a strong public interest in ensuring that shareholders have access to the courts to resolve their claims,” which includes “the ability to participate in securities class-action lawsuits.”
Richard Fleming, the SEC’s investor advocate, said during a recent speech that investors are concerned about efforts to force public company shareholders to forego class action lawsuits and seek recovery individually through arbitration.
The issue, he said, has been a matter of concern “to investors recently, after commentators have suggested that U.S. IPO issuers should consider including arbitration provisions in their articles or bylaws.”