Securities Law Prof Blog

Editor: Eric C. Chaffee
Univ. of Toledo College of Law

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Bainbridge on Regulating Insider Trading in Post-Fiduciary Duty Era

Regulating Insider Trading in the Post-Fiduciary Duty Era: Equal Access or Property Rights?, by Stephen M. Bainbridge, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law, was recently posted on SSRN.  Here is the abstract:

This essay was prepared for a forthcoming book on the law and economics of insider trading.

In Chiarella and Dirks, the Supreme Court based insider trading liability on a breach of a disclosure obligations arising out of a fiduciary relationship. The resulting narrowing of the scope of insider trading liability met substantial resistance from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the lower courts. Through both regulatory actions and judicial opinions, the SEC and the courts gradually chipped away at the fiduciary duty rationale. In recent years, the trend has accelerated, with several developments having substantially eviscerated the fiduciary duty requirement.

The current unsettled state of insider trading jurisprudence necessitates rethinking the foundational premises of that jurisprudence from first principles. This essay argues that the correct rationale for regulation insider trading is protecting property rights in information. Although that rationale obviously has little to do with the traditional concerns of securities regulation, this article further argues that the SEC has a sufficiently substantial advantage in detecting and prosecuting insider trading that it should retain jurisdiction over the offense.

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