Monday, July 07, 2008

The CFTC Deadline . . . Wavers

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)'s Concept Release on the Appropriate Regulatory Treatment of Event Contracts says, "Comments must be received by July 7, 2008." What deadline does that impose? I played it safe, and assumed that I had to send mine in before midnight, this morning. Today, I learned from Bruce Fekrat, Special Counsel to the Office of the Director of the CFTC, that in fact I had up until this coming midnight to email my comments.

Any lawyer worth his or her salt knows better than to use the ambiguous "by" when specifying a deadline. The CFTC should have said, "Comments must be received before July 8, 2008." Thanks to its poor drafting, I rushed my comment out the door, missed the chance to get lots of new signatures, and wasted time swapping emails with various people equally confounded about what the CFTC meant.

Sigh. And to think that some people hope the CFTC will assert jurisdiction over prediction markets and clarify their legality under U.S. law! If the CFTC cannot get even something so routine as specifying a deadline right, I shudder to think what sort of confusion it might impose on prediction markets.

[Crossposted at Agoraphilia and Midas Oracle.]

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