Lenders vs CFPB in Fifth Circuit

July 9, 2024
July 5, 2024
2 Minutes Read
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Payday lenders are escalating their fight against a controversial Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) rule by petitioning for a full Fifth Circuit review. The case, which could reshape the landscape of short-term lending and agency accountability, centers on a provision that restricts lenders from repeatedly attempting to withdraw funds from borrowers' accounts after failed attempts.

The lenders argue that the panel erred in its remedial inquiry for separation-of-powers violations by requiring them to show that a hypothetical replacement CFPB Director would have acted differently regarding the rule. They propose a less stringent standard based on demonstrating the President's desire to remove the officer, the restriction preventing removal, and a nexus to the challenged action.

Additionally, the lenders challenge the panel's reliance on administrative convenience to uphold the rule's application to debit/prepaid card payments and separate installments of multi-payment loans, claiming it conflicts with precedent from the Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit, and D.C. Circuit.

Industry players maintain that the CFPB overstepped its authority in crafting the rule, arguing that it places undue burdens on their operations and could limit consumer access to short-term credit. The case also raises questions about the CFPB's constitutionality and independence from executive oversight.

A three-judge panel previously issued a mixed ruling, upholding parts of the CFPB's rule while expressing sympathy for some industry concerns. The lenders now hope that a full circuit review will yield a more favorable outcome, potentially invalidating the rule entirely.

Our Opinion:

The stakes are high for both payday lenders and the entire financial services industry, as the ruling could impact the CFPB's authority and future regulations. The case highlights the ongoing tension between consumer protection and industry interests, raising fundamental questions about safeguarding consumers, ensuring credit access, and the proper role of federal regulatory agencies.

With billions of dollars in loans and the financial well-being of millions of consumers at stake, the Fifth Circuit's decision on whether to grant the en banc review will have lasting impacts on payday lending, agency accountability, and financial regulation in the United States.

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