How the New York Court of Appeals’ Limitation on Martin Act Liability Affects Fund Managers

The Martin Act (Act) – New York’s broad “blue sky law” – has been used extensively by the New York Attorney General (NY AG) to investigate and combat securities fraud occurring in New York. Although the Act may only be enforced by the NY AG, it authorizes both criminal and civil charges and, importantly, does not require proof of scienter or reliance to successfully bring a claim. As a result, the Act has been a favored tool of past Attorneys General in targeting members of the financial services community. Although not affecting the substance of the Act, a recent decision by the New York Court of Appeals imposed an important new limitation on how the Act can be wielded by the NY AG by holding that New York’s three-year statute of limitations applies to civil enforcement actions brought under the Act. In a guest article, Schulte Roth & Zabel partner Harry S. Davis provides background on the Act, its notable uses and the likely consequences that the ruling will have on the financial services community. For additional insight from Davis, see “Hedge Funds in the Crosshairs: The Law of Insider Trading in an Active Enforcement Environment” (Feb. 17, 2010). For more on the Act, see “Newly Appointed Chief of New York’s Investor Protection Bureau Describes Its Enforcement of the Martin Act and How Managers Can Avoid Prosecution” (Oct. 20, 2016); and “New York Court of Appeals Holds That the Martin Act, New York’s ‘Blue Sky’ Law, Does Not Preempt Common Law Claims for Breach of Fiduciary Duty and Gross Negligence” (Jan. 12, 2012).

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