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The Role of Public and Private Litigation in the Enforcement of Securities Laws in the United States

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Abstract:

This research conducts a broad, empirical study of the overlapping public and private mechanisms that enforce federal securities laws. The author uses two original datasets to provide a descriptive analysis of federal enforcement actions, initiated by the Securities Exchange Commission, and private class actions, filed on behalf of aggrieved investors, between 1998 and 2004. His study also examines how the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 has perturbed the balance of joint litigation of securities suits, and discusses the role of public and private litigation in disciplining self regulatory organizations, in particular the national stock exchanges, since 1990. A final contribution of this study is an analysis of the corporate governance reforms that both public and private litigators have required defendant firms to adopt, as part of their settlement agreements, together with an analysis of the market reaction to these reforms.