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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

ARRC proposes legislation for US dollar LIBOR contracts

State Issues State Regulation State Legislation LIBOR Interest Rate Federal Reserve Federal Reserve Bank of New York

State Issues

On March 6, the Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) announced a legislative proposal for New York state legislation for U.S. dollar LIBOR contracts intended to “minimize legal uncertainty and adverse economic impacts associated with LIBOR transition.” The ARRC—a group of private-market participants convened by the Federal Reserve Board and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in cooperation with a number of other federal financial regulatory agencies—explained that it proposed legislation in New York because the state’s law governs a substantial number of financial contracts that refer to U.S. dollar LIBOR. The proposed bill includes measures to address the absence of sufficient LIBOR fallback or transition language in existing financial contracts referencing LIBOR. The proposed legislation would prohibit parties from being able to use the discontinuance of LIBOR as a reason for declaring a breach of contract, establish a recommended benchmark replacement index as a commercially reasonable substitute for LIBOR, and override contractual language referencing a LIBOR-based rate and require use of the benchmark replacement. Contractual parties would also be permitted to mutually opt-out of any mandatory application of the proposed legislation under the bill. The ARRC specifically highlighted that its proposed legislation would not override existing contract language that already delineated a non-LIBOR rate as a fallback to LIBOR.