The House Financial Services Committee passed 15 bills which were referred to the full House of Representatives today, but conspicuously, a bill that would exempt lawyers engaged in legal actions from the definition of “debt collector” under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, was not on the list.
In fact, it appears as though the bill was not even marked up yesterday, despite being on the original agenda to be discussed.
When the committee published an announcement on Jan. 11, listing all of the bills that were on the schedule to be marked up, H.R. 4550, Practice of Law Technical Clarification Act of 2017 was on the docket. But when looking at the list on the committee’s website for proceedings held yesterday and today, the bill was not included in the list.
Of the 17 bills that were on the original announcement, 15 of them were voted, and approved today, by the committee. Only H.R. 4550 and another bill, the Volcker Rule Regulatory Harmonization Act were not voted on.
Under H.R. 4550, lawyers would be exempt from the definition of “debt collector” under the FDCPA if they are:
- serving, filing, or conveying formal legal pleadings, discovery requests, or other documents pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure; or
- communicating in, or at the direction of, a court of law or in depositions or settlement conferences, in connection with a pending legal action to collect a debt on behalf of a client.
The bill would also amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act to prohibit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from any supervisory or enforcement activity of lawyers “engaged in the practice of law and not offering or providing consumer financial products or services.”
No reason was given why the bill was neither marked up nor voted on.
UPDATE: Mark Dobosz, the executive director of NARCA, the National Creditors Bar Association, submitted the following update regarding the bill:
H.R. 4550 – Practice of Law Technical Clarification Act of 2017, originally scheduled for mark-up this past Wednesday, has been rescheduled for the early March mark-up in the House Financial Services Committee. The Chairman’s office confirmed that administrative issues required the rescheduling of the bill due to the proposed amendments. Our sponsors have reaffirmed their commitment to the bill. We will continue to monitor and provide updates on its progress.