Rule finalized accepting use of electronic communications in hearings; takes effect April 1

Recognizing the use of electronic communications in all aspects of administrative hearings and increasing the “efficiency and fairness of administrative adjudications” is the aim of a rule finalized last week by the federal financial institution regulators – and announced Tuesday by the credit union agency.

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) said it joined the federal banking regulators in issuing the rule, which was finalized Dec. 28. More specifically, the final rule amends the Uniform Rules of Practice and Procedure (UPRR) in agency regulations to recognize the use of electronic communications for hearings.

NCUA also said that it and the federal regulator of national banks, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), are also removing from the UPRR the remaining references to the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), which was abolished in 2011.

The proposal was issued almost two years ago (April 2022). According to the agencies, uniform rules and local rules adopted by the regulators in 1996 had remained largely unchanged. In the meantime, however, they asserted that the practice of administrative hearings had changed fundamentally with the introduction of electronic communication and transmission.

The agencies in 2022 noted that the 1996 rules were put in place when regulators only accepted paper pleadings.

Much has changed since then, the agencies indicated. By 2006, they noted, paper pleadings were virtually eliminated in administrative hearings. “Without rules in place to address electronic pleadings, the Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) opted to dictate procedures pertaining to electronic filing and other items on an ad hoc basis in their scheduling orders,” the new rule asserts.

The agencies noted that the new rule takes effect April 1.

Rules of Practice and Procedure Final Rule Published