Federal Lawmakers Not Convinced NY Confession of Judgment Ban is Enough

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The recent New York State law that effectively ended the era of Confessions of Judgment in the small business finance industry is apparently not enough to satiate the outrage of some federal lawmakers. This morning, Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) and Rep. Roger Marshall (R-KS) introduced the “Small Business Lending Fairness Act” that would outlaw confessions of judgment in small business financing transactions nationwide.

Given the impact the New York law is expected to have, the effort may appear to be duplicative. But not quite. The New York law prohibits COJs from being filed in New York against out-of-state debtors. As New York had the friendliest commercial COJ process, financial companies were using New York courts to file COJs against debtors in all 50 states whether there was a nexus to New York or not. By requiring the debtor be in New York, as the new law requires, the utility of COJs in the New York courts for the other 49 states has been eliminated.

However…

That doesn’t mean that courts in other states don’t allow commercial COJs to be filed in their home states. Some do, such as California and Pennsylvania, for example, but the process isn’t as friendly or as easy as New York’s. (See an analysis of California’s and Pennsylvania’s COJ process here)

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Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY)

That is where the proposed federal law would have the most reach and why a federal bill is not merely an academic exercise at this stage.

The federal bill’s language is not new. It mirrors a bill introduced by Senators Sherrod Brown and Marco Rubio in December. No movement has been made on it since but they reportedly intend to move forward with it.

Velázquez intends to keep the momentum going.

“I was appalled to find out that New York State has become an epicenter for dishonest lenders seeking to swindle small businesses around the country,” Velázquez said. “That’s why I’m proud to introduce this legislation and will be leading a hearing this week to further expose these abusive practices.”

The hearing she refers to is titled, “Crushed by Confessions of Judgement: The Small Business Story” and it’s being held tomorrow at 11:30am on Capitol Hill. It will be livestreamed here.

An alleged victim of predatory lending is among the guest speakers. Mr. Jerry Bush, who was featured in Bloomberg’s controversial series on merchant cash advances, is on the witness list. Bush reportedly lost his business after a series of unfortunate business dealings. Nobody from the small business finance industry is currently appearing to offer any opposing testimony on the matter of COJs. If that changes, deBanked will provide an update.

The hearing will be livestreamed on the deBanked homepage.

Last modified: June 25, 2019
Sean Murray


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