The Supreme Court and mutual funds @ Cato

Larry Ribstein —  14 September 2010

I’ll be helping Cato celebrate Constitution Day and the soon-to-be-published edition of their latest Supreme Court Review with my contribution on last term’s Jones v. Harris: Federal Misgovernance of Mutual Funds. See Walter Olson’s summary of the panel on the business cases. Here’s the abstract of my paper:

In Jones v. Harris Associates, the Supreme Court interpreted investment advisers’ fiduciary duty regarding compensation for services under Section 36(b) of the Investment Company Act of 1940. The Court endorsed an open-ended Second Circuit standard over a more determinate Seventh Circuit test calling only for full disclosure and no “tricks.” This paper shows that Congress created and must solve the fundamental problem the Court faced in Jones. At one level the problem stems from the existence of an investment adviser fiduciary duty as to compensation and the corporate structure from which it springs. At a deeper level lies the more basic problem of federal interference in firm governance, which lacks state corporate law’s safety valve of interstate competition and experimentation. This discussion is appropriate in light of the increasing federal role evident in the enactment of broad new financial regulation.

And speaking of new financial regulation, here’s a discussion of the latest move toward imposing fiduciary duties on brokers.

Hope to see some of you on Thursday.

Larry Ribstein

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Professor of Law, University of Illinois College of Law

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