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Supreme Court hears arguments on real estate fees, interpreters

The US Supreme Court [official website] heard oral arguments [day call, PDF] in two cases Tuesday. In Freeman v. Quicken Loans, Inc. [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] the court heard arguments on whether Section 8(b) of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) [text] prohibits a real estate settlement services provider from only charging an unearned fee when the fee is divided between two or more parties. The US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held [opinion, PDF] that the RESPA prohibits only kickbacks and referral fees, not unearned fees by a sole provider of settlement services. Therefore, charges that Quicken imposed on the appellants for loan discount fees and a loan processing fee are not prohibited by Section 8(b) of the RESPA. Counsel for the petitioners argued:

For decades, the agency Congress charged with administering the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act has construed that statute as prohibiting a lender from accepting a charge for a real estate settlement service it didn't provide, whether it accepts that charge directly from a consumer or indirectly through another service provider, and whether it shares that fee with another provider or keeps it all for itself. That interpretation is eminently reasonable and is entitled to deference.
Counsel for the US government argued as amicus curiae on behalf of petitioners.

In Taniguchi v. Kan Pacific Saipan, Ltd. [transcript, PDF; JURIST report], the court heard arguments on whether translating written documents is enough to be considered an "interpreter" under 28 USC § 1920 [text] for matters of compensation. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit determined [opinion, PDF] that translating documents is acting as an interpreter under the law. Counsel for the petitioner presented "six categories of authority demonstrating that the work of an interpreter under 28 USC § 1920(6) is limited to spoken communication. Counsel for respondent argued for a broad definition of the word "interpreter."

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