Appeals court dismisses suit over new CFTC rule

Sat Jan 21, 2012 4:12pm EST
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An appeals court has dismissed a lawsuit by the financial industry challenging new federal regulations aimed at cracking down on speculation in commodities markets, a move that will likely delay a decision over whether the rules pass muster.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association and the International Swaps and Derivatives Association in December filed challenges to the regulations adopted last year by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit dismissed the lawsuit saying that the case must first be heard by a lower court, an argument advanced by the CFTC.

"There is no express congressional authorization of direct appellate review applicable to the petition for review in this case," the three-judge panel said in a brief order issued late on Friday.

They said that federal laws provided for appellate review for other agency action but not the challenged regulation.

The CFTC voted 3-2 in October to set "position limits" on the number of commodity futures and swaps contracts that a trader could hold. It has been decried by traders as a politically motivated effort to cap prices that will make markets less liquid and more volatile.

The two trade groups sued to block the new rules arguing that the CFTC exceeded its authority and that the regulations were not adequately justified.

The CFTC had argued that the case should first be heard by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Once that court hears the case, whatever decision reached there can be challenged at the appeals court, a lengthier process.

"Although the statute was unclear, we thought that might be the answer and were prepared for it, and for that reason we filed in both courts," said Steve Kennedy a spokesman for ISDA. "We now will move forward quickly in the district court."   Continued...