July 26, 2023 — At its recent 132nd Annual Meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) approved five new acts.
Uniform Consumer Debt Default Judgments Act. Numerous studies report that default judgments are entered in more than half of all debt collection actions. The purpose of this Act is to provide consumer debtors and courts with the information necessary to evaluate debt collection actions. The Act provides consumer debtors with access to information needed to understand claims being asserted against them and identify available defenses; advises consumers of the adverse effects of failing to raise defenses or seek the voluntary settlement of claims; and makes consumers aware of assistance that may be available from legal aid organizations. The Act also seeks to provide a uniform framework in which courts can fairly, efficiently, and promptly evaluate the merits of requests for default judgments while balancing the interests of all parties and the courts.
Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act (2023). This Act is intended to supersede the 1993 Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act. This Act enables individuals to appoint agents to make health care decisions for them should they be unable to make those decisions for themselves, provide their health-care professionals and agents with instructions about their values and priorities regarding their health care, and to indicate particular medical treatment they do or do not wish to receive. It also authorizes certain people to make health-care decisions for individuals incapable of making their own decisions but who have not appointed agents, thus avoiding the need to appoint a guardian or otherwise involve a court in most situations. In addition, it sets forth the related duties and powers of agents and healthcare professionals, and provides protection in the form of immunity to both under specified circumstances. This Act shares the goals of the 1993 Act but is revised to reflect changes in how health care is delivered, increases in non-traditional familial relationships and living arrangements, the proliferation of the use of electronic documents, the growing use of separate advance directives exclusively for mental health care, and other recent developments. The Act also seeks to improve upon the 1993 Act based on decades of experience and knowledge about how people make health-care decisions and about the challenges associated with creating and using advance directives.
Model Public-Health Emergency Authority Act. This Act is designed to improve the preparedness of states for public health emergencies. Specifically, the Act clarifies the powers of a governor to declare a public health emergency and to issue orders in response to that emergency. Simultaneously, the Act establishes measures to promote a governor’s accountability to the Legislature and to the public at large. The goal of the Act is to empower a governor to act quickly and decisively while also clarifying substantive and procedural limitations to a governor’s authority. The Model Act also imposes a sunset provision on every public-health emergency declaration and public-health emergency order, and it requires a governor to make a new record as a condition of renewing declaration or an order.
Uniform Special Deposits Act. A special deposit is an account at a bank that holds funds that may be paid upon the occurrence of one or more contingencies. Although such accounts are common, the legal protections afforded to them are uncertain and outdated in the context of modern banking. This uniform act minimizes these legal uncertainties by providing clear and executable rules. First, the Act sets forth several elements for when a deposit is considered a “special deposit.” Second, the Act specifies that a special deposit is a debt owed to the beneficiary after determination of a stated contingency. Third, the Act clarifies that a special deposit is remote from a depositor’s bankruptcy estate unless the depositor has a determined right to the special deposit in its capacity as a beneficiary. Finally, the Act reduces the vulnerability created by the prospect of the bank holding the special deposit exercising a right of set off against the special deposit for a mature debt of the depositor or a beneficiary. The Special Deposits Act gives banks and their customers legal certainty that the expectations of special deposit account users will be respected.
Uniform Unlawful Restrictions in Land Records Act. This Act allows property owners whose deed contains a discriminatory, prohibited restriction to record an amendment to the land records that effectively removes the restriction. Under the Act, individuals who own property in a common interest community that is subject to a prohibited restriction are empowered to record an amendment to the governing instruments that removes the restriction, either by majority vote of the members of the association or by sending a request to the governing body. The Act creates a path forward for property owners who want to correct the record on the often painful history of their homes.
Other drafts which were debated at the ULC annual meeting, but which were not scheduled for final approval, include Updates to the Uniform Unincorporated Organization Acts, Updates to the Uniform Determination of Death Act, Tenants in Common Transactions Act, and Antitrust Pre-Merger Notification Act.
The ULC, now in its 132nd year, comprises more than 400 practicing lawyers, governmental lawyers, judges, law professors, and lawyer-legislators from every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Commissioners are appointed by their states to draft and promote enactment of uniform laws that are designed to solve problems common to all the states.
After receiving the ULC’s seal of approval, a uniform act is officially promulgated for consideration by the states, and legislatures are urged to adopt it. Since its inception in 1892, the ULC has been responsible for more than 200 acts, among them such bulwarks of state statutory law as the Uniform Commercial Code, the Uniform Probate Code, the Uniform Partnership Act, and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act.
The current drafts of all of these acts can be found at the ULC’s website at www.uniformlaws.org.
Uniform Law Commission / 111 N. Wabash Ave., Suite 1010, Chicago IL 60602312/450-6600 / www.uniformlaws.org
Contact: Katie Robinson, ULC Senior Director, Strategy & Communications, krobinson@...
------------------------------Katie RobinsonSenior Director for Strategy and CommunicationsChicago IL------------------------------
Uniform Law Commission 111 N. Wabash Avenue, Suite 1010 Chicago, Illinois 60602
Uniform Law Commission The Uniform Law Commission (ULC, also known as the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws), established in 1892, provides states with non-partisan, well-conceived and well-drafted legislation that brings clarity and stability to critical areas of state statutory law.