Bar News - May 14, 2010
Banking Dept. Officials to Explain Stance on Mortgage Law
Attend either the live program or watch the live webcast of the NHBA CLE program presented in conjunction with the NH Banking Department, "Be Safe! Understanding the NH SAFE Act and its Licensing Requirements for Attorneys, Municipal Entities and Sellers."
The program takes place at the Bar Center on Tuesday, May 25 from 9:00 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and qualifies for 2.0 NHMCLE hours. The presenters are Banking Commissioner Peter Hildreth, Celia Leonard, general counsel, and Mary L. Jurta, Director, Consumer Credit Division, NH Banking Department. The program is moderated by attorney Carol Brooks, of the CATIC Title Insurance Co.
The "SAFE Act" and a companion state law requiring licensing of mortgage consultants have been the subject of much discussion by attorneys who have clients seeking assistance in preventing foreclosures and renegotiating mortgages. Concern was heightened when the Banking Department issued a cease-and-desist order on a Concord law firm, Dargon Law Firm, which focuses heavily on representing consumers facing foreclosures. The Banking Department alleged 750 violations of the licensing law and proposed penalties of more than $66 million.
Last month, Superior Court Judge Larry Smukler enjoined enforcement of the order, allowing Dargonís firm to continue representing clients in foreclosure, except for those clients who have not yet missed a mortgage payment but expect to do so Ė a very small part of Dargonís clientele.
Attorneys with foreclosure cases through the NHBA Pro Bono Referral Programís Home Rescue Team, which assists eligible low-income clients with foreclosure problems, are exempt from the law since they are not receiving compensation for handling the cases.
The ABA has issued a statement to the FTC asking it to exempt attorneys from SAFE Act provisions, as attorneys are already subject to regulation.
Visit www.nhbar.org for more information on this issue, including news coverage links, the ABA letter, and online registration links for the CLE.