Financial institution litigation deals with legal challenges faced by banks, credit unions, and many other entities. As they partake in lending, investing, and other intricate dealings, they may encounter legal disputes with clients, investors, regulators, and rivals, among others. Having adept legal aid to steer through these disputes is vital for limiting liabilities and safeguarding interests.
If you’re responsible for safeguarding a financial institution, watch out for potential legal challenges. These often stem from loan defaults, foreclosures, investment downfalls, client grievances, work disagreements, or contract violations.
- Banks (Commercial and Retail)
- Credit Unions
- Savings and Loan Associations
- Investment Banks and Companies
- Brokerage Firms
- Insurance Companies
- Pension Funds
- Mortgage Companies
- Asset Management Firms
- Private Equity Firms
Given the hefty financial stakes, even minor disputes can significantly affect these institutions. Hence, being armed with legal support and documentation is a crucial measure.
Some of the common legal challenges that financial institutions are likely to confront include:
- Lending and business disputes – These include borrower defaults, foreclosures, lien disputes, lender liability claims, and cases disputing terms of lending agreements. Financial institutions need to strictly follow lending laws and regulations to avoid liability.
- Class action lawsuits – Consumers may collectively sue banks over issues like overdraft fees, interest rates, and insufficient disclosures. Recent class actions have targeted banks for millions in damages.
- Account disputes – Litigation may arise over unauthorized fund transfers, identity theft, account errors, or disputes regarding ownership of funds. Institutions need to prove they followed protocols.
- Regulatory actions – Regulators like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) scrutinize your practices and can impose fines and penalties over violations of various federal and state laws.
Other common disputes may be caused by customer or employee complaints, privacy issues and data breaches, fraud and anti-money laundering (AML) compliance, contractual breaches, and intellectual property disputes (especially for fintech firms).
To effectively manage litigation risks, financial institutions rely on steady legal counsel. Their support should include:
- Mediation and arbitration – Alternative dispute resolution can avoid costly trials. Lawyers negotiate satisfactory settlements or arbitrated outcomes.
- Court representation – Attorneys advocate for favorable rulings during trials and hearings. They also manage appeals of unfavorable verdicts.
- Investigations assistance – Counsel manages the production of documents. They provide strategic defense during lawsuits or regulatory investigations.
- Contract drafting – Lawyers help craft lending, transactional, and other contracts to minimize litigation risks.
- Compliance guidance – By advising banks on following lending laws and regulations, attorneys help prevent violations that lead to lawsuits.
Engaging qualified legal counsel early on, even before litigation commences, can many times help resolve issues quickly through pre-litigation management strategies. This avoids the costs of drawn out legal disputes.
Specific federal laws and regulations govern financial institutions in the U.S. Government action suits are common.
But what laws do regulators most often use to challenge a financial institution? Here’s a useful breakdown:
|Electronic Fund Transfer Act
|Regulates debit, ATM, and electronic banking transactions, with non-adherence leading to consumer lawsuits.
|Truth in Lending Act
|Mandates the disclosure of credit costs and terms, with violations inviting lawsuits.
|Uniform Commercial Code
|A state-adopted code governing bank transactions, lending, and liens crucial in contract and foreclosure litigations.
|Bank Secrecy Act
|Mandates customer identity verification and suspicious activity reporting. Non-compliance can spark lawsuits.
|Fair Credit Reporting Act
|Protects information that consumer reporting agencies gather, including credit bureaus, medical information companies, and tenant screening services.
|Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
|Aims to reduce risks in the financial system, establishing agencies to oversee financial institutions and practices.
|Sets standards for corporate governance, financial reporting, and auditing to promote transparency and protect investors.
|Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws
|Prevent and report money laundering activities.
|Fair Lending laws
|Ensure fair and equitable access to credit without discrimination.
|Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)
|Requires financial institutions to explain their information-sharing practices and protect sensitive data.
To be sure, it’s vital to limit legal exposure by staying updated on the specific laws that govern your financial institution.
At Roman Law, we combine our litigation strength and experience with deep international finance knowledge. Our attorneys always work collaboratively with our clients’ in-house counsel, as well as with company management, to maximize results.
📞 Ready to defend your institution? Just reach out.
Financial institutions can take proactive steps to reduce litigation risks. If you’re responsible for safeguarding a financial institution, be sure to:
- Review customer agreements, disclosures, and notices to ensure legal compliance.
- Implement strong internal controls, security procedures, and documentation practices.
- Train employees on legal requirements, customer service, and dispute resolution.
- Resolve customer complaints quickly and offer reasonable settlements to avoid lawsuits.
- Conduct audits to identify problem areas, and address them through corrective action plans.
- Minimize your personal risk through the strategic use of business trusts.
- Maintain detailed records in the event legal defense is needed for lawsuits.
As always, avoiding preventable legal situations is more effective than defending claims in court. Whether you’re seeking to avoid or respond to litigation, the international banking law experts at Roman Law are prepared to protect your interests.
It is critical to engage a law firm experienced in financial services litigation with capabilities including:
- Extensive knowledge of banking laws and regulations.
- Background representing banks or other financial institutions (such as fintech firms) in lawsuit prevention, mediation, arbitration, and trials.
- Handling specific banking litigation like foreclosures, privacy breaches, and class actions.
- Regional experience dealing with state laws and federal circuit precedents.
- Resources to handle large regulatory investigations and class action lawsuits.
A suitable firm understands the financial services industry, and has the right expertise to protect your institution’s interests in litigation.
Examining previous financial institution lawsuits provides lessons for avoiding legal pitfalls. Some notable cases include:
🔖 Bank of America’s 2018 settlement of $66.6 million ended a lawsuit that accused it of collecting unlawfully high interest rates, mislabeled as “fees”.
Lessons: Ensure sales program integrity and customer authorizations.
🔖 Citibank was required to pay $700 million in fines and consumer relief in 2017 over improper credit card products and services.
Lessons: Adhere strictly to account billing and collections laws.
🔖 JPMorgan Chase was sued for over $1 billion in 2020 for excessive overdraft fees during the pandemic.
Lessons: Avoid fee practices that can spur class actions.
Be sure to learn what you can from past lawsuits involving the regulating bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Federal Reserve System. A well-versed attorney can spot relevant legal precedents for your case.
To be sure, drawing insights from previous litigation helps to establish risk controls. It also motivates those in the financial services sector to stick to compliance measures.
Various business activities can trigger litigation, but financial institutions can limit exposure with prudent risk management and the right legal support.
Understanding laws, resolving complaints, auditing your practices, and choosing experienced counsel will go a long way toward protecting your assets.
Roman Law Firm’s financial litigators have successfully assisted domestic and foreign financial institutions, including those in the banking, insurance, and securities industries. We help you face lending and business disputes with the full force of the law.
📞 Ready to safeguard your side? Just reach out.
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