Conflict minerals rule — limited portion invalidated; 2 June filing deadline looms

By Sanjay M Shirodkar and Douglas Rein

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has issued an opinion in the legal challenge to the conflict minerals rule adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in late 2012.

A divided court concluded that a portion of the statute and the SEC rule violate the First Amendment to the extent the statute and rule require issuers to report to the SEC and to state on their website that any of their products have ‘not been found to be DRC conflict free’.

While the petitioners had challenged the rule under the Administrative Procedures Act and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 (including the failure of the SEC to adopt a de minimis exemption from reporting, criticism of the SEC’s cost-benefit analysis and alleged arbitrary actions by the SEC in adopting an extended phase-in period for smaller reporting companies), the court did not agree with those other challenges. The court remanded the case for further proceedings consistent with its opinion…

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