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CFPB Finalizes Advisory Opinion Program: New Policy Allows Requestors to Seek Regulatory Clarity
4 January 2021
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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (the “CFPB”) recently finalized a policy describing its process for the issuance of advisory opinions. The new policy describes the process by which entities can request the CFPB to provide clarity regarding interpretive questions.
If accepted, requests will prompt the CFPB to provide an advisory opinion specifying the set of facts analyzed and the agency’s legal interpretation. The advisory opinions may provide a safe harbor or similar protection from CFPB enforcement actions for entities and individuals that have a reasonable basis for reliance on the opinion.
We believe the advisory opinion policy is a productive development; that firms should carefully monitor the issuance of advisory opinions, given that they may provide a safe harbor from enforcement (and, conversely, could lead to enforcement if a firm strays from an opinion’s interpretations); that firms should consider whether and under what circumstances to request an opinion; and that other federal financial regulators following the CFPB’s model should help increase meaningfully the clarity of regulatory requirements.
Courtney M. Dankworth
Alexandra N. Mogul
Amy Aixi Zhang
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