Minding Your Business

Proskauer’s perspective on developments and trends in commercial litigation.

ICC Expands Automatic Application of Expedited Procedure

ICC arbitrations based on agreements entered into in 2021 and beyond will follow an expedited procedure if the amount in dispute is $3 million or less – up from the previous $2 million or less.

This expansion of the automatic applicability of the Expedited Procedure is one of the most significant amendments made to the revised ICC Arbitration Rules 2021, which entered into force on January 1, 2021. It is thus important for parties agreeing to ICC arbitration to be acquainted with the key features of that procedure and with their ability to either opt in or opt out of it.

The Expedited Procedure will apply automatically to disputes up to $3 million unless the parties agree to opt out. Just as importantly, parties are free to opt in to the Expedited Procedure even if the amount in dispute exceeds $3 million.  As a practical matter, parties are likely to be able to agree to opt in or out only at the time they are negotiating the arbitration agreement: whether to do so should thus be considered at that time. Continue Reading

DOJ Continues Price Gouging Enforcement Under the Defense Production Act

On April 2, 2021, the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey released an update of her office’s efforts to prevent fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic, noting prosecutions involving the Paycheck Protection Program, the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, and the Unemployment Insurance programs, as well as prosecutions involving price-gouging and hoarding of critical personal protective equipment. The announcement comes on the heels of a similar one by Attorney General Merrick Garland last month, who marked the one year anniversary of the passage of the CARES Act by announcing that, in the past year, the Department of Justice has charged nearly 500 individuals with COVID-related fraud. These announcements serve as important reminders that, even as the vaccine roll out continues and life regains a sense of normalcy, federal prosecutors continue to actively monitor price gouging compliance. Continue Reading

Price Gouging Legislation on the Horizon in States Without Laws

While the majority of states have had price gouging laws on the books since before the pandemic, widespread pandemic price gouging has led states without laws to reconsider. Some states, like Colorado, passed price gouging legislation mid-pandemic, but other states, including New Hampshire and Washington, are now playing catch up. Continue Reading

Antitrust Enforcers Preview Incoming Spotlight on Blockchain

The tide of regulation of cryptocurrency and blockchain could be turning in the United States. Following comments by newly-confirmed Treasury Secretary (and former Federal Reserve Chair) Janet Yellen describing Bitcoin as “inefficient” and “extremely volatile,” the price of the coin dropped 10% in 24 hours. During her confirmation hearings, Yellen described cryptocurrencies as a “particular concern” and signaled that the Treasury would begin examining blockchain-based financial networks. On the heels of Secretary Yellen’s comments, Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC), head of the House Financial Services Committee, and Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA), Chair of the Financial Technologies Task Force, introduced H.R. 1602, bipartisan legislation which directs the CFTC and the SEC to “jointly establish a digital asset working group” to “provide regulatory clarity” and to “create a critical collaboration [between the two agencies to] create fair and transparent markets.” Notably absent from this proposed collaboration is any mention of antitrust enforcement or involvement of the DOJ antitrust division or the FTC.  However, recent comments by outgoing DOJ chair Makan Delrahim provide clues as to how antitrust may play a part in the regulatory framework for blockchain and cryptocurrency. Continue Reading

Circuit Split Deepens as Eleventh Circuit Holds Administrative Feasibility is Not a Requirement for Class Certification

On February 2, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court’s denial of class certification for failure to prove an administratively feasible method to identify absent class members. The Eleventh Circuit’s rejection of administrative feasibility as a prerequisite to certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 has deepened a circuit split on the issue. Continue Reading

One to Watch: Constitutional Challenges to NYC’s Price Gouging Rule

On March 18, 2021, retailer Union Square Supply, Inc. filed a civil rights class action lawsuit in the Southern District of New York challenging New York City’s price gouging enforcement practices.  The complaint alleges that defendants are responsible for “the creation and maintenance of an illegal and unconstitutional penalty enforcement scheme, abuse of emergency powers, and other misconduct that improperly assesses penalties and fines on businesses without any notice or due process.” Continue Reading

No Hearing? No Money: Second Circuit Holds the Government May Not Keep Illegally Seized Rent

The Second Circuit has recently held that the Government must account for rental income it denied a property owner during a period of illegal seizure even though the Government was able to establish probable cause at a post-seizure hearing.  The appeal stemmed from a decades-long sanctions and civil forfeiture action in which the U.S. Department of Justice has sought to forfeit, among others, a 36-story skyscraper located at 650 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan co-owned by the Alavi Foundation, an entity accused of laundering money for Iran. Continue Reading

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