Subscribe to our InfoBytes Blog weekly newsletter and other publications for news affecting the financial services industry.
Michigan Court Rule Change Allows Electronic Signatures. Recently, the Michigan Supreme Court approved a rule change that allows the use of electronic signatures for any document filed in the state court system, including any signature required by a law or court rule to be notarized or made under oath. Several States Adjust Mortgage Registration, Licensing Regulations. Recently, five states amended their laws to clarify the scope of their mortgage-related registration and licensing requirements. First, New Hampshire passed House Bill 247, which exempts from licensing requirements mortgage bankers and brokers who negotiate three or fewer residential mortgage loans in a calendar year. The bill will take effect July 13, 2012. New Hampshire also enacted House Bill 408 to provide an exemption for attorneys, which took effect on May 29, 2012. Second, Louisiana enacted, effective immediately, House Bill 508, which defines "regularly engaged" to clarify thresholds for activity requiring licensure as a mortgage loan originator or mortgage broker or lender. Third, Mississippi enacted Senate Bill 2897, which makes several changes to the states S.A.F.E. Mortgage Act including a change to the definition of mortgage loan originator to exclude certain activities. The changes go into effect July 1, 2012. Fourth, in Michigan, the Governor recently signed Senate Bill 908, which immediately amends the Mortgage Loan Originators Licensing Act to require, among other things, that a person have an approved sponsor in the NMLS in order to be licensed as a mortgage loan originator. Finally, New York enacted Senate Bill 3779, which as of January 1, 2013 will exempt from licensing any individual, person, partnership, association, corporation or other entity which makes three or fewer loans in a calendar year and no more than five in a two year period, provided that no such mortgage loans were solicited, processed, placed or negotiated by a mortgage broker, mortgage banker or exempt organization. New York also extended again its emergency rules regarding mortgage loan originator licensing, this time through August 12, 2012.
On April 24, the Supreme Court of Tennessee upheld an appellate court decision enforcing a settlement agreed upon by an e-mail exchange between the parties’ attorneys. Waddle v. Elrod, No. M2009-02142-SC-R11CV, 2012 WL 1406451 (Tenn. Apr. 24, 2012). The case involved a family dispute over an interest in real property. After counsel exchanged email setting forth terms of the settlement (which included agreement to transfer a property interest), one party recanted and refused to sign the written settlement documents. In the ensuing litigation, the trial court enforced the settlement agreement, but failed to address arguments that Tennessee’s Statute of Frauds (the Statute) precluded enforcement or that the state’s Uniform Electronic Transactions Act (UETA) satisfied the Statute. In addressing both questions, the Tennessee Supreme Court rejected a lower appellate court’s reasoning that the Statute only applied to land sale contracts, and held that the Statute also applied to agreements to transfer land. The court nonetheless opined that that the exchanged e-mails were sufficiently definite writings for purposes of the Statute, and were validated as such by UETA; the court also found that the parties “through their counsel evidenced an intent to finalize the settlement by electronic means,” that UETA “obviate[d] the need for a handwritten signature[,]” and that counsel’s “typed name at the end of the e-mail constitute[d] an ‘electronic signature[,]’” thereby satisfying the signature requirement of the Statute.