Consumer Finance Insights
November 16, 2015

Court Recognizes Right of Anonymity When Challenging A CFPB Civil Investigative Demand

​The District Court for the District of Columbia recently ruled that a company challenging a CFPB Civil Investigative Demand (“CID”) has the right to maintain its anonymity. John Doe Company No. 1 v. CFPB, No. 1:15-cv-1177 (D.D.C. Oct. 16, 2015).  After receiving a CID from the CFPB, the John Doe Company requested counsel be present at a voluntary investigation hearing.  When this request was denied by the CFPB, the John Doe Company filed a complaint seeking a temporary restraining order against the CFPB and also requesting that the case be sealed.  The company argued that the case should be sealed because CFPB investigations are typically private and it would be harmful if the ongoing investigation was disclosed to the public.  The court used a six-factor test established in United States v. Hubbard that considers: 1) the public’s need for access to the documents, 2) the public’s access prior to sealing of the documents, 3) the fact that a party has objected to disclosure and identity of the party, 4) the property and privacy interests involved, 5) possible prejudice against the moving party, and 6) the purpose for introducing​​​ the documents. 650 F.2d 293, 317-321 (D.C. Cir. 1980). Under this analysis the court reached a “compromise” by unsealing the case but requiring the CFPB to redact all filings pertaining to the case and to omit the company’s name and any information likely to lead to discovery of its identity.