SEC responds to US court of appeals decision on conflict minerals rule

Both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and its staff recently responded to the 14 April ruling of a federal appeals court that the SEC’s conflict minerals rule violates the First Amendment’s prohibition against compelled speech to the extent that it requires issuers to disclose in their Conflict Minerals Report filed with the SEC and to state on their website that any of their products have ‘not been found to be ‘DRC conflict free’. The decision of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which is discussed in the SEC Update, has raised questions about how issuers should present their disclosures on conflict minerals under Exchange Act Rule 13p-1 and Form SD.

A commission order and guidance by the staff indicate that the Court of Appeals’ decision will not affect the obligation of public companies under Rule 13p-1 to file their initial Form SD and any related Conflict Minerals Report by the due date of 2 June 2014. The report, however, will not have to contain the disclosures that the court found would interfere with the reporting company’s exercise of free speech…

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