David Rosenfeld

Document Type



In 2013, the SEC departed from its long-standing policy of settling enforcement matters on a no-admit/no-deny basis, and for the first time began to require admissions when settling certain cases. The new admissions policy was greeted with considerable concern by many who thought it would lead to fewer settlements, more litigation, and a decline in the effectiveness of SEC enforcement. After more than four years, a full assessment of the policy is in order. The SEC continues to report record enforcement numbers and has touted the admissions policy as a great success. However, this Article empirically demonstrates that the SEC has obtained admissions in a very small number of cases since adopting the new policy, and on only a few occasions in cases involving the most serious charges, namely scienter-based fraud. Moreover, it shows that the SEC has applied the new policy inconsistently and haphazardly, treating like cases differently--a problem that is compounded by a complete lack of transparency in the process. This Article contends that these trends reveal a deliberate strategy of accommodation on the part of the SEC, through which the agency has trumpeted a message of tough enforcement and public accountability, while in reality continuing business as usual. In light of these issues, this Article concludes that the admissions policy should be reconsidered or abandoned altogether.

Publication Date


Original Citation

David Rosenfeld, Admissions in SEC Enforcement Cases: The Revolution That Wasn't, 103 Iowa L. Rev. 113 (2017).


College of Law

Legacy Department

College of Law




University of Iowa Law Review

Rights Statement

In Copyright



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.