Can a secondary market purchaser be sued for anything I as a lender—or one of my vendors—get wrong?

I think this is really something that has to be explored by courts. The easy answer is no. The violation has to be apparent on the face of the disclosure, which I tried to talk about earlier. What does that mean for the TILA disclosures? It typically means you can look at the documents that were received with the assignment and the disclosure and discover that there’s a violation. The finance charge was done wrong, it was understated, and therefore you’re liable as the assignee, because you should have caught it in your QC. That’s fairly straightforward. But with RESPA there was no liability, either for lenders or for assignees, other than just enforcement against lenders. So what happens now? These new disclosures all have a private right of action, or presumably do. There are some questions that will need to be litigated about where private rights exist and where they don’t, but I think you can probably assume for now that a violation of basically anything on the disclosure form will at least give someone an opportunity to file a lawsuit that could potentially carry liability. The question is really what violations will become apparent on the face of the disclosure? In the past, if you look at case law about TILA assignee liability, issues like timing have been dismissed. Courts have said you can’t determine whether or not the disclosure was given within the timing requirement based on the face of the disclosure; therefore, there won’t be any assignee liability for timing violation. But I think it’s less clear here, not because assignees are supposed to have a crystal ball, but there are disclosures that say the date issued is X, and it’s supposed to be the date the disclosure was delivered or placed in the mail. For the closing disclosure, it’s supposed to be when it was provided to the consumer. It’s questionable whether the court may change its tune on issues like that. Other things like the RESPA tolerances have never really fully been explored by courts because the issues never come up. There’s been TILA disclosure and TILA tolerances but not RESPA tolerances, meaning you’ve made a disclosure of an estimated settlement service and violated the good faith standard because you charged the consumer more than the estimate and you didn’t refund the money back. With those types of issues, it’s really unclear what courts are going to do. The CFPB didn’t even tell us whether there were prior rights of action within the rule, let alone address those types of questions. To be fair, I don’t think they really could have. Those are statutory questions courts will have to hash out. It will probably be years before courts of appeals have gotten those types of issues and decided them. Even then, they may not agree.

Answered By: Andy Arculin