House Bill Would Exempt Collection Attorneys Engaged in Litigation from the FDCPA

House Bill Would Exempt Collection Attorneys Engaged in Litigation from the FDCPA
by Dean Kanellis

A bill that was recently introduced in the House of Representatives would exempt debt collection attorneys from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) “when taking certain actions.” The Bill, which was introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.), is described as a technical fix that does not erode the consumer protections afforded by the FDCPA.

In particular, H.R. 2892 would amend the FDCPA’s definition of “debt collector” to exclude “any law firm or licensed attorney [that is] (i) serving, filing, or conveying formal legal pleadings, discovery requests, or other documents pursuant to the applicable rules of civil procedure; or (ii) communicating in, or at the direction of, a court of law or in depositions or settlement conferences, in connection with a pending legal action to collect a debt on behalf of a client….”

As noted by Mr. Lou Freedman, president of the National Association of Retail Collection Attorneys, “all other communications from collection attorneys must still comply with the FDCPA.” Accordingly, the bill appears to be intended to shield attorneys from liability, while they are engaged in litigation on behalf of a client, without limiting the protections consumers are afforded against extra-judicial abuse and deception.

The newly introduced bill is very similar to H.R. 6706, which was unsuccessfully introduced by North Carolina Republican Walter Jones, Jr. towards the end of the last Congress, but with plenty of time left in the current Congress, the prospects of passage of the current bill are more promising.