Maine Securities & Business Litigation = Maine Business Court

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Yes we can . . . find a more efficient, tailored, and effective process for resolving business and consumer disputes in Maine.  Welcome to Maine's Business Court, sometimes referred to as the Business and Consumer Docket (BCD).  The Judicial Branch website describes the BCD and its purpose this way:

The Business and Consumer Court , also known as the BCD, is a statewide docket comprised of selected actions involving business and /or consumer disputes, and shall be managed by two judges from either trial court designated by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Judicial Court.
The goals of the Business and Consumer Court are to provide predictable judicial action in selected cases involving business and or consumer disputes, avoid placing unnecessary burdens on the court and the litigants in such cases, keep litigation costs reasonable, and promote an effective and efficient process for resolving such disputes.
Cases that may be considered for transfer to the Business and Consumer Court are jury and nonjury civil actions and family matters that do not involve children, in which:
  1. the principal claim or claims involve matters of significance to the transactions, operation or governance of a business entity and/or the rights of a consumer arising out of transactions or other dealings with a business entity, and
  2. the case requires specialized and differentiated judicial management.

Any case can be transferred at any time to the BCD, at the Court's discretion.  The BCD offers specialized case management tailored to the circumstances of the case, a quasi-electronic filing protocol (e-mail filings, but no fancy ECF / Pacer system akin to what the federal courts use), a trial date setting at the first conference with the assigned Justice (there are two), and other benefits.   The Rules can be found on the Judicial Branch website.

The BCD should be on the checklist of options in every business (including securities) and consumer case.

Brokers Pay Heavily For REIT Sales In Massachusetts

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Real-Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) are back in the spotlight, at least in Massachusetts. REITs, which own and manage income-producing property or other are otherwise involved in real-estate financing, may be considered risky investments. This is due part to the fact that they may not trade on exchanges and may be illiquid for long periods of time.

As Fox Business reports Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin recently announced that Ameriprise Financial Inc., Lincoln National Corp., Commonwealth Financial Corp., Royal Alliance Associates and Securities America will pay a total of $975,000 in fines and $8.6 million in restitution for allegedly improperly selling non-traded REITs.

As the Boston Business Journal also reports, the violations center on a rule in Massachusetts that permits investors to put no more than an 10% of the investor's liquid net worth into REITs.
Secretary Galvin reported that an investigation found significant and widespread problems with the firms' compliance with their own policies, practices and procedures and adherence with Massachusetts prospectus requirements, which left some investors locked into illiquid and underperforming financial products.
In addition to hefty monetary fines, the settlement also requires each of the firms above to examine the REITs they deal with to ensure proper sales and investment procedures were followed.