A Critique of the Insider Trading Prohibition Act of 2021

2021 UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS LAW REVIEW ONLINE 231 (2021)

UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 21-08

15 Pages Posted: 21 Jun 2021 Last revised: 27 Aug 2021

See all articles by Stephen M. Bainbridge

Stephen M. Bainbridge

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Abstract

The Insider Trading Prohibition Act of 2021 has been passed by the House of Representatives and, as of this writing, is awaiting action in the Senate. The Act’s proponents claim that it simply codifies and clarifies existing law. In fact, the Act does neither. It likely will expand the scope of insider trading in undesirable ways and introduce new ambiguities into the law.

The ways in which the Act likely will expand the insider trading prohibition, coupled with the new ambiguities it introduces, threatens the central policy on which the insider trading prohibition rests. The Supreme Court has recognized that the work of market analysts and other investment professionals inherently entails seeking information advantages. In turn, as the Court also recognized, that work is an essential part of maintaining efficient stock markets. By increasing the risk of liability, especially in light of the Draconian penalties associated with insider trading, the Act likely will chill this vital activity, to the detriment of all investors.

When a very similar bill passed the House in the 116th Congress, the legislation died in the Senate. The Insider Trading Prohibition Act of 2021 now awaits Senate action. The Senate would be well advised to let this bill die as well.

Keywords: insider trading, regulation, vagueness

Suggested Citation

Bainbridge, Stephen Mark, A Critique of the Insider Trading Prohibition Act of 2021. 2021 UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS LAW REVIEW ONLINE 231 (2021), UCLA School of Law, Law-Econ Research Paper No. 21-08, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3869222

Stephen Mark Bainbridge (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

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