Title 12 Part 1071 → Subpart A
Title 12 → Chapter X → Part 1071 → Subpart A
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations e-CFR
Title 12 Part 1071 → Subpart A
e-CFR data is current as of December 5, 2019
Title 12: Banks and Banking
PART 1071—RULE IMPLEMENTING EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT
(a) In general. The Equal Access to Justice Act (the Act), 5 U.S.C. 504, provides for the award of attorney fees and other expenses to eligible individuals and entities who are parties to certain administrative proceedings (adversary adjudications) before the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (the Bureau). An eligible party may receive an award when it prevails over the Bureau, unless the Bureau's position in the proceeding was substantially justified or special circumstances make an award unjust. This part describes the parties eligible for awards and the proceedings that are covered. This part also explains how to apply for awards, and the procedures and standards that the Bureau will use in ruling on those applications.
(b) When an eligible party will receive an award. An eligible party will receive an award when:
(1) It prevails in the adversary adjudication, unless the Bureau's position in the proceeding was substantially justified or special circumstances make an award unjust. Whether or not the position of the Bureau was substantially justified will be determined on the basis of the administrative record as a whole that is made in the adversary proceeding for which fees and other expenses are sought; or
(2) The Bureau's demand is substantially in excess of the decision of the adjudicative officer and is unreasonable when compared with that decision, under all the facts and circumstances of the case, unless the party has committed a willful violation of law or otherwise acted in bad faith, or special circumstances make an award unjust. “Demand” means the express final written demand made by the Bureau prior to initiation of the adversary adjudication, but does not include a recitation by the Bureau of the statutory penalty in the notice of charges or elsewhere when accompanied by an express demand for a lesser amount. The relief requested in the Bureau's notice of charges issued pursuant to 12 CFR 1081.200(b)(3) may constitute the Bureau's demand only where the notice of charges was not preceded by an express final written demand.
§1071.101 When the Act applies.
The Act applies to any adversary adjudication pending before the Bureau at any time after July 21, 2011.
§1071.102 Proceedings covered.
The Act applies to all adjudicative proceedings under part 1081 as defined in §1081.103.
§1071.103 Eligibility of applicants.
(a) To be eligible for an award of attorney fees and other expenses under the Act, the applicant must be a party to the adversary adjudication for which it seeks an award. The term “party” is defined in 5 U.S.C. 551(3). The applicant must show that it meets all conditions of eligibility set out in this subpart.
(b) The types of eligible applicants are as follows:
(1) An individual with a net worth of not more than $2 million;
(2) The sole owner of an unincorporated business who has a net worth of not more than $7 million, including both personal and business interests, and not more than 500 employees;
(3) A charitable or other tax-exempt organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)) with not more than 500 employees;
(4) A cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)) with not more than 500 employees; or
(5) Any other partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization with a net worth of not more than $7 million and not more than 500 employees.
(6) For purposes of receiving an award for fees and expenses for defending against an excessive Bureau demand, any small entity, as that term is defined under 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
(c) For purposes of eligibility, the net worth and number of employees of an applicant shall be determined as of the date the proceeding was initiated.
(d) An applicant who owns an unincorporated business will be considered an “individual” rather than a “sole owner of an unincorporated business” if the issues on which the applicant prevails are related primarily to personal interests rather than to business interests.
(e) The employees of an applicant include all persons who regularly perform services for remuneration for the applicant, under the applicant's direction and control. Part-time employees shall be included on a proportional basis.
(f) The net worth and number of employees of the applicant and all of its affiliates shall be aggregated to determine eligibility. Any individual or group of individuals, corporation or other entity that directly or indirectly controls or owns a majority of the voting shares or other interest of the applicant, or any corporation or entity of which the applicant directly or indirectly owns or controls a majority of the voting shares or other interest, will be considered an affiliate of that business for purposes of this part, unless the adjudicative officer determines that such treatment would be unjust and contrary to the purposes of the Act in light of the actual relationship between the affiliated entities. In addition, the adjudicative officer may determine that financial relationships of the applicant other than those described in this paragraph constitute special circumstances that would make an award unjust.
(g) An applicant that participates in a proceeding primarily on behalf of one or more other persons or entities that would be ineligible is not itself eligible for an award.
§1071.104 Standards for awards.
(a) For a prevailing party:
(1) An eligible prevailing applicant may receive an award for fees and expenses incurred after initiation of the adversary adjudication in connection with the entire adversary adjudication, or on a substantive portion of the adversary adjudication that is sufficiently significant and discrete to merit treatment as a separate unit, unless the position of the Bureau was substantially justified. The burden of proof that an award should not be made to an eligible prevailing applicant because the Bureau's position was substantially justified is on counsel for the Bureau. However, no presumption arises that the Bureau's position was not substantially justified simply because the Bureau did not prevail.
(2) An award will be reduced or denied if the applicant has unduly or unreasonably protracted the proceeding or if special circumstances make the award sought unjust.
(b) For a party defending against an excessive demand:
(1) An eligible applicant will receive an award for fees and expenses incurred after initiation of the adversary adjudication related to defending against the portion of a Bureau demand that is substantially in excess of the decision of the adjudicative officer and is unreasonable when compared with that decision under all the facts and circumstances of the case.
(2) An award will be denied if the applicant has committed a willful violation of law or otherwise acted in bad faith or if special circumstances make an award unjust.
§1071.105 Allowable fees and other expenses.
(a) Subject to the limitations in paragraph (b) of this section, awards will be based on rates customarily charged, in the locale of the hearing, by persons engaged in the business of acting as attorneys, agents and expert witnesses, even if the services were made available without charge or at a reduced rate to the applicant.
(b) No award for the fee of any attorney or agent under this rule may exceed the hourly rate specified in 5 U.S.C. 504(b)(1)(A). No award to compensate an expert witness may exceed the reasonable rate at which the Bureau pays witnesses with similar expertise. However an award may also include the reasonable expenses of the attorney, agent or witness as a separate item, if the attorney, agent or witness ordinarily charges clients separately for such expenses.
(c) In determining the reasonableness of the fee sought for an attorney, agent or expert witness, the adjudicative officer shall consider the following:
(1) If the attorney, agent or witness is in private practice, his or her customary fee for similar services, or, if an employee of the applicant, the fully allocated cost of the services;
(2) The prevailing rate for similar services in the community in which the attorney, agent or witness ordinarily performs services;
(3) The time actually spent in the representation of the applicant;
(4) The time reasonably spent in light of the difficulty or complexity of the issues in the proceeding; and
(5) Such other factors as may bear on the value of the services provided.
(d) The reasonable cost of any study, analysis, engineering report, test, project or similar matter prepared on behalf of a party may be awarded, to the extent that the charge for the services does not exceed the prevailing rate for similar services, and the study or other matter was necessary for preparation of the applicant's case.
(e) An award of fees or expenses under the Act is limited to fees and expenses incurred after initiation of the adversary adjudication and, with respect to excessive demands, the fees and expenses incurred in defending against the excessive portion of the demand.
§1071.106 Delegations of authority.
The Director may delegate authority to take final action on matters pertaining to the Equal Access to Justice Act in particular cases.