SEC administrative proceedings have long been viewed as a one-sided rocket docket tilted toward giving the SEC every advantage possible. In response, the SEC has proposed amendments to its rules regarding administrative proceedings. The proposals seem to do little to address recent successful constitutional challenges to the administrative proceedings.
One set of proposals includes primary changes to the Commission’s Rules of Practice that:
- Adjust the timing of administrative proceedings, including by extending the time before a hearing occurs in appropriate cases
- Permit parties to take depositions of witnesses as part of discovery
This set of proposals also makes certain other clarifying and conforming changes. For example, the proposals include procedures related to the mechanics of the proposed expanded deposition practice, such as location, methods of recording, forms of objections, and duties of the deposition officer. The proposed amendments also would simplify the requirements for seeking Commission review of an initial decision and provide enhanced transparency into the timing of the Commission’s decisions in such appeals.
The second set of proposals will require parties in administrative proceedings to submit filings and serve each other electronically, and to redact certain sensitive personal information from those filings. The proposed amendments are intended to enhance the accessibility of administrative proceedings by ensuring that filings and other information concerning administrative proceedings are more readily available to the public. So those of you interested in this area will be able to watch the SEC and defendants throw rocks at one another in real time. Sort of like EDGAR for litigators. This may lead to increased disclosure by public companies ensnared in administrative proceedings as the rest of the world will be watching.