Over the years I’ve noted that information required pursuant to various disclosure obligations, or new or amended rules, may be “furnished” versus “filed” with the SEC, but I realize in a “let’s get back to basics” moment, I have not yet (until now) provided a detailed explanation of what that means. In summary, information that is “filed” with the SEC carries Section 18 liability, only “filed” information can be incorporated by reference into other filings, such as an S-3 registration statement, and only “filed” SEC reports affect S-3 eligibility.
Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (“Exchange Act”) imposes liability on any person that makes or causes to be made any statement in any application, report or document “filed” pursuant to the Exchange Act or any rule thereunder which statement was at the time and in the light of the circumstances under which it was made false or misleading with
In December 2017, the American Bar Association (“ABA”) submitted its fourth comment letter to the SEC related to the financial and business disclosure requirements in Regulation S-K. Like the SEC’s ongoing Disclosure Effectiveness Initiative, the ABA has a Disclosure Effectiveness Working Group as part of its Federal Regulation of Securities Committee (of which I am a member) and its Law and Accounting Committee.
The ABA comment letter begins with a general discussion of the materiality concept, which is the underlying basis of disclosure, and then provides input on various specific areas of disclosure under Regulation S-K. The ABA comment letter specifically responded to the SEC concept release and request for public comment on sweeping changes to certain business and financial disclosure requirements issued on April 15, 2016. See my two-part blog on the S-K Concept Release HERE and HERE.