On January 7, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held oral arguments for the lawsuit challenging the Securities and Exchange Commission’s conflict minerals rule. According to reports on the hearing, two of the three judges on the panel, David Sentelle and A. Raymond Randolph, expressed concerns regarding the rule. These two judges were reportedly sympathetic to arguments raised by attorneys for the trade groups challenging the conflict minerals rule that the rule went beyond the intent of Congress and forced companies to speak against their will in violation of the First Amendment.
The appellate court did not provide any guidance regarding when they might rule on the case, and unless the rule is vacated, issuers will still be required to comply with the conflict minerals rule for the calendar year beginning January 1, 2013 (regardless of the issuer’s fiscal year), with any initial Form SD required to be filed with the SEC no later than May 31, 2014. For additional information, please see the Corporate and Financial Weekly Digest edition of August 24, 2012 regarding the release of the conflict minerals rule and the edition of July 26, 2013 discussing the initial ruling in the case challenging the rule.