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Securities Exchange Act of 1934





Section 15A -- Registered Securities Associations


  1. Registration; application

    An association of brokers and dealers may be registered as a national securities association pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, or as an affiliated securities association pursuant to subsection (d), under the terms and conditions hereinafter provided in this section and in accordance with the provisions of section 19(a), by filing with the Commission an application for registration in such form as the Commission, by rule, may prescribe containing the rules of the association and such other information and documents as the Commission, by rule, may prescribe as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.

  2. Determinations by Commission requisite to registration of applicant as national securities association

    An association of brokers and dealers shall not be registered as a national securities association unless the Commission determines that--

    1. By reason of the number and geographical distribution of its members and the scope of their transactions, such association will be able to carry out the purposes of this section.

    2. Such association is so organized and has the capacity to be able to carry out the purposes of this title and to comply, and (subject to any rule or order of the Commission pursuant to section 17(d) or 19(g)(2)) to enforce compliance by its members and persons associated with its members, with the provisions of this title, the rules and regulations thereunder, the rules of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, and the rules of the association.

    3. Subject to the provisions of subsection (g), the rules of the association provide that any registered broker or dealer may become a member of such association and any person may become associated with a member thereof.

    4. The rules of the association assure a fair representation of its members in the selection of its directors and administration of its affairs and provide that one or more directors shall be representative of issuers and investors and not be associated with a member of the association, broker, or dealer.

    5. The rules of the association provide for the equitable allocation of reasonable dues, fees, and other charges among members and issuers and other persons using any facility or system which the association operates or controls.

    6. The rules of the association are designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, to foster cooperation and coordination with persons engaged in regulating, clearing, settling, processing information with respect to, and facilitating transactions in securities, to remove impediments to and perfect the mechanism of a free and open market and a national market system, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest; and are not designed to permit unfair discrimination between customers, issuers, brokers, or dealers, to fix minimum profits, to impose any schedule or fix rates of commissions, allowances, discounts, or other fees to be charged by its members, or to regulate by virtue of any authority conferred by this title matters not related to the purposes of this title or the administration of the association.

    7. The rules of the association provide that (subject to any rule or order of the Commission pursuant to section 17(d) or 19(g)(2)) its members and persons associated with its members shall be appropriately disciplined for violation of any provision of this title, the rules or regulations thereunder, the rules of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, or the rules of the association, by expulsion, suspension, limitation of activities, functions, and operations, fine, censure, being suspended or barred from being associated with a member, or any other fitting sanction.

    8. The rules of the association are in accordance with the provisions of subsection (h), and, in general, provide a fair procedure for the disciplining of members and persons associated with members, the denial of membership to any person seeking membership therein, the barring of any person from becoming associated with a member thereof, and the prohibition or limitation by the association of any person with respect to access to services offered by the association or a member thereof.

    9. The rules of the association do not impose any burden on competition not necessary or appropriate in furtherance of the purposes of this title.

    10. The requirements of subsection (c), insofar as these may be applicable, are satisfied.

    11. The rules of the association include provisions governing the form and content of quotations relating to securities sold otherwise than on a national securities exchange which may be distributed or published by any member or person associated with a member, and the persons to whom such quotations may be supplied. Such rules relating to quotations shall be designed to produce fair and informative quotations, to prevent fictitious or misleading quotations, and to promote orderly procedures for collecting, distributing, and publishing quotations.

    12. The rules of the association to promote just and equitable principles of trade, as required by paragraph (6), include rules to prevent members of the association from participating in any limited partnership rollup transaction (as such term is defined in paragraphs (4) and (5) of section 14(h)) unless such transaction was conducted in accordance with procedures designed to protect the rights of limited partners, including--

      1. the right of dissenting limited partners to one of the following:

        1. an appraisal and compensation;

        2. retention of a security under substantially the same terms and conditions as the original issue;

        3. approval of the limited partnership rollup transaction by not less than 75 percent of the outstanding securities of each of the participating limited partnerships;

        4. the use of a committee that is independent, as determined in accordance with rules prescribed by the association, of the general partner or sponsor, that has been approved by a majority of the outstanding securities of each of the participating partnerships, and that has such authority as is necessary to protect the interest of limited partners, including the authority to hire independent advisors, to negotiate with the general partner or sponsor on behalf of the limited partners, and to make a recommendation to the limited partners with respect to the proposed transaction; or

        5. other comparable rights that are prescribed by rule by the association and that are designed to protect dissenting limited partners;

      2. the right not to have their voting power unfairly reduced or abridged;

      3. the right not to bear an unfair portion of the costs of a proposed limited partnership rollup transaction that is rejected; and

      4. restrictions on the conversion of contingent interests or fees into non- contingent interests or fees and restrictions on the receipt of a non- contingent equity interest in exchange for fees for services which have not yet been provided.

      As used in this paragraph, the term "dissenting limited partner" means a person who, on the date on which soliciting material is mailed to investors, is a holder of a beneficial interest in a limited partnership that is the subject of a limited partnership rollup transaction, and who casts a vote against the transaction and complies with procedures established by the association, except that for purposes of an exchange or tender offer, such person shall file an objection in writing under the rules of the association during the period in which the offer is outstanding.

    13. The rules of the association prohibit the authorization for quotation on an automated interdealer quotation system sponsored by the association of any security designated by the Commission as a national market system security resulting from a limited partnership rollup transaction (as such term is defined in paragraphs (4) and (5) of section 14(h)), unless such transaction was conducted in accordance with procedures designed to protect the rights of limited partners, including--

      1. the right of dissenting limited partners to one of the following:

        1. an appraisal and compensation;

        2. retention of a security under substantially the same terms and conditions as the original issue;

        3. approval of the limited partnership rollup transaction by not less than 75 percent of the outstanding securities of each of the participating limited partnerships;

        4. the use of a committee that is independent, as determined in accordance with rules prescribed by the association, of the general partner or sponsor, that has been approved by a majority of the outstanding securities of each of the participating partnerships, and that has such authority as is necessary to protect the interest of limited partners, including the authority to hire independent advisors, to negotiate with the general partner or sponsor on behalf of the limited partners, and to make a recommendation to the limited partners with respect to the proposed transaction; or

        5. other comparable rights that are prescribed by rule by the association and that are designed to protect dissenting limited partners;

      2. the right not to have their voting power unfairly reduced or abridged;

      3. the right not to bear an unfair portion of the costs of a proposed limited partnership rollup transaction that is rejected; and

      4. restrictions on the conversion of contingent interests or fees into non- contingent interests or fees and restrictions on the receipt of a non- contingent equity interest in exchange for fees for services which have not yet been provided.

      As used in this paragraph, the term "dissenting limited partner" means a person who, on the date on which soliciting material is mailed to investors, is a holder of a beneficial interest in a limited partnership that is the subject of a limited partnership rollup transaction, and who casts a vote against the transaction and complies with procedures established by the association, except that for purposes of an exchange or tender offer, such person shall file an objection in writing under the rules of the association during the period during which the offer is outstanding.

    14. The rules of the association include provisions governing the sales, or offers of sales, of securities on the premises of any military installation to any member of the Armed Forces or a dependent thereof, which rules require

      1. the broker or dealer performing brokerage services to clearly and conspicuously disclose to potential investors

        1. that the securities offered are not being offered or provided by the broker or dealer on behalf of the Federal Government, and that its offer is not sanctioned, recommended, or encouraged by the Federal Government; and

        2. the identity of the registered broker-dealer offering the securities;

      2. such broker or dealer to perform an appropriate suitability determination, including consideration of costs and knowledge about securities, prior to making a recommendation of a security to a member of the Armed Forces or a dependent thereof; and

      3. that no person receive any referral fee or incentive compensation in connection with a sale or offer of sale of securities, unless such person is an associated person of a registered broker or dealer and is qualified pursuant to the rules of a self-regulatory organization.

  3. National association rules; provision for registration of affiliated securities association

    The Commission may permit or require the rules of an association applying for registration pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, to provide for the admission of an association registered as an affiliated securities association pursuant to subsection (d) of this section, to participation in said applicant association as an affiliate thereof, under terms permitting such powers and responsibilities to such affiliate, and under such other appropriate terms and conditions, as may be provided by the rules of said applicant association, if such rules appear to the Commission to be necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors and to carry out the purposes of this section. The duties and powers of the Commission with respect to any national securities association or any affiliated securities association shall in no way be limited by reason of any such affiliation.

  4. Registration as affiliated association; prerequisites; association rules

    An applicant association shall not be registered as an affiliated securities association unless it appears to the Commission that--

    1. such association, notwithstanding that it does not satisfy the requirements set forth in paragraph (1) of subsection (b), will, forthwith upon the registration thereof, be admitted to affiliation with an association registered as a national securities association pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, in the manner and under the terms and conditions provided by the rules of said national securities association in accordance with subsection (c) of this section; and

    2. such association and its rules satisfy the requirements set forth in paragraphs (2) to (10), inclusive, and paragraph (12), of subsection (b) of this section; except that in the case of any such association any restrictions upon membership therein of the type authorized by paragraph (3) of subsection (b) shall not be less stringent than in the case of the national securities association with which such association is to be affiliated.

  5. Dealings with nonmember professionals

    1. The rules of a registered securities association may provide that no member thereof shall deal with any nonmember professional (as defined in paragraph (2) of this subsection) except at the same prices, for the same commissions or fees, and on the same terms and conditions as are by such member accorded to the general public.

    2. For the purposes of this subsection, the term "nonmember professional" shall include (A) with respect to transactions in securities other than municipal securities, any registered broker or dealer who is not a member of any registered securities association, except such a broker or dealer who deals exclusively in commercial paper, bankers' acceptances, and commercial bills, and (B) with respect to transactions in municipal securities, any municipal securities dealer (other than a bank or division or department of a bank) who is not a member of any registered securities association and any municipal securities broker who is not a member of any such association.

    3. Nothing in this subsection shall be so construed or applied as to prevent (A) any member of a registered securities association from granting to any other member of any registered securities association any dealer's discount, allowance, commission, or special terms, in connection with the purchase or sale of securities, or (B) any member of a registered securities association or any municipal securities dealer which is a bank or a division or department of a bank from granting to any member of any registered securities association or any such municipal securities dealer any dealer's discount, allowance, commission, or special terms in connection with the purchase or sale of municipal securities: Provided, however, That the granting of any such discount, allowance, commission, or special terms in connection with the purchase or sale of municipal securities shall be subject to rules of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board adopted pursuant to section 15B(b)(2)(K).

  6. Transactions in municipal securities

    Nothing in subsection (b)(6) or (b)(11) shall be construed to permit a registered securities association to make rules concerning any transaction by a registered broker or dealer in a municipal security.

  7. Denial of membership

    1. A registered securities association shall deny membership to any person who is not a registered broker or dealer.

    2. A registered securities association may, and in cases in which the Commission, by order, directs as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors shall, deny membership to any registered broker or dealer, and bar from becoming associated with a member any person, who is subject to a statutory disqualification. A registered securities association shall file notice with the Commission not less than thirty days prior to admitting any registered broker or dealer to membership or permitting any person to become associated with a member, if the association knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that such broker or dealer or person was subject to a statutory disqualification. The notice shall be in such form and contain such information as the Commission, by rule, may prescribe as necessary or appropriate in the public interest or for the protection of investors.

      1. A registered securities association may deny membership to, or condition the membership of, a registered broker or dealer if (i) such broker or dealer does not meet such standards of financial responsibility or operational capability or such broker or dealer or any natural person associated with such broker or dealer does not meet such standards of training, experience, and competence as are prescribed by the rules of the association or (ii) such broker or dealer or person associated with such broker or dealer has engaged and there is a reasonable likelihood he will again engage in acts or practices inconsistent with just and equitable principles of trade. A registered securities association may examine and verify the qualifications of an applicant to become a member and the natural persons associated with such an applicant in accordance with procedures established by the rules of the association.

      2. A registered securities association may bar a natural person from becoming associated with a member or condition the association of a natural person with a member if such natural person (i) does not meet such standards of training, experience, and competence as are prescribed by the rules of the association or (ii) has engaged and there is a reasonable likelihood he will again engage in acts or practices inconsistent with just and equitable principles of trade. A registered securities association may examine and verify the qualifications of an applicant to become a person associated with a member in accordance with procedures established by the rules of the association and require a natural person associated with a member, or any class of such natural persons, to be registered with the association in accordance with procedures so established.

      3. A registered securities association may bar any person from becoming associated with a member if such person does not agree (i) to supply the association with such information with respect to its relationship and dealings with the member as may be specified in the rules of the association and (ii) to permit examination of its books and records to verify the accuracy of any information so supplied.

      4. Nothing in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of this paragraph shall be construed to permit a registered securities association to deny membership to or condition the membership of, or bar any person from becoming associated with or condition the association of any person with, a broker or dealer that engages exclusively in transactions in municipal securities.

    3. A registered securities association may deny membership to a registered broker or dealer not engaged in a type of business in which the rules of the association require members to be engaged: Provided, however, That no registered securities association may deny membership to a registered broker or dealer by reason of the amount of such type of business done by such broker or dealer or the other types of business in which he is engaged.

  8. Discipline of registered securities association members and persons associated with members; summary proceedings

    1. In any proceeding by a registered securities association to determine whether a member or person associated with a member should be disciplined (other than a summary proceeding pursuant to paragraph (3) of this subsection) the association shall bring specific charges, notify such member or person of, and give him an opportunity to defend against, such charges, and keep a record. A determination by the association to impose a disciplinary sanction shall be supported by a statement setting forth--

      1. any act or practice in which such member or person associated with a member has been found to have engaged, or which such member or person has been found to have omitted;

      2. the specific provision of this title, the rules or regulations thereunder, the rules of the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board, or the rules of the association which any such act or practice, or omission to act, is deemed to violate; and

      3. the sanction imposed and the reason therefor.

    2. In any proceeding by a registered securities association to determine whether a person shall be denied membership, barred from becoming associated with a member, or prohibited or limited with respect to access to services offered by the association or a member thereof (other than a summary proceeding pursuant to paragraph (3) of this subsection), the association shall notify such person of and give him an opportunity to be heard upon, the specific grounds for denial, bar, or prohibition or limitation under consideration and keep a record. A determination by the association to deny membership, bar a person from becoming associated with a member, or prohibit or limit a person with respect to access to services offered by the association or a member thereof shall be supported by a statement setting forth the specific grounds on which the denial, bar, or prohibition or limitation is based.

    3. A registered securities association may summarily (A) suspend a member or person associated with a member who has been and is expelled or suspended from any self-regulatory organization or barred or suspended from being associated with a member of any self-regulatory organization, (B) suspend a member who is in such financial or operating difficulty that the association determines and so notifies the Commission that the member cannot be permitted to continue to do business as a member with safety to investors, creditors, other members, or the association, or (C) limit or prohibit any person with respect to access to services offered by the association if subparagraph (A) or (B) of this paragraph is applicable to such person or, in the case of a person who is not a member, if the association determines that such person does not meet the qualification requirements or other prerequisites for such access and such person cannot be permitted to continue to have such access with safety to investors, creditors, members, or the association. Any person aggrieved by any such summary action shall be promptly afforded an opportunity for a hearing by the association in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection. The Commission, by order, may stay any such summary action on its own motion or upon application by any person aggrieved thereby, if the Commission determines summarily or after notice and opportunity for hearing (which hearing may consist solely of the submission of affidavits or presentation of oral arguments) that such stay is consistent with the public interest and the protection of investors.

  9. Obligation to maintain registration, disciplinary, and other data.

    1. Maintenance of system to respond to inquiries. A registered securities association shall

      1. establish and maintain a system for collecting and retaining registration information;

      2. establish and maintain a toll-free telephone listing, and a readily accessible electronic or other process, to receive and promptly respond to inquiries regarding

        1. registration information on its members and their associated persons; and

        2. registration information on the members and their associated persons of any registered national securities exchange that uses the system described in subparagraph (A) for the registration of its members and their associated persons; and

      3. adopt rules governing the process for making inquiries and the type, scope, and presentation of information to be provided in response to such inquiries in consultation with any registered national securities exchange providing information pursuant to subparagraph (B)(ii).

    2. Recovery of costs. A registered securities association may charge persons making inquiries described in paragraph (1)(B), other than individual investors, reasonable fees for responses to such inquiries.

    3. Process for disputed information. Each registered securities association shall adopt rules establishing an administrative process for disputing the accuracy of information provided in response to inquiries under this subsection in consultation with any registered national securities exchange providing information pursuant to paragraph (1)(B)(ii).

    4. Limitation on liability. A registered securities association, or an exchange reporting information to such an association, shall not have any liability to any person for any actions taken or omitted in good faith under this subsection.

    5. Definition. For purposes of this subsection, the term "registration information" means the information reported in connection with the registration or licensing of brokers and dealers and their associated persons, including disciplinary actions, regulatory, judicial, and arbitration proceedings, and other information required by law, or exchange or association rule, and the source and status of such information.

  10. Registration for sales of private securities offerings

    A registered securities association shall create a limited qualification category for any associated person of a member who effects sales as part of a primary offering of securities not involving a public offering, pursuant to section 3(b), 4(2), or 4(6) of the Securities Act of 1933 and the rules and regulations thereunder, and shall deem qualified in such limited qualification category, without testing, any bank employee who, in the six month period preceding November 12, 1999, engaged in effecting such sales.

  11. Limited purpose national securities association

    1. Regulation of members with respect to security futures products

      A futures association registered under section 21 of Title 7 by Exchange Act shall be a registered national securities association for the limited purpose of regulating the activities of members who are registered as brokers or dealers in security futures products pursuant to section 15(b)(11).

    2. Requirements for registration

      Such a securities association shall--

      1. be so organized and have the capacity to carry out the purposes of the securities laws applicable to security futures products and to comply, and (subject to any rule or order of the Commission pursuant to section 19(g)(2)) to enforce compliance by its members and persons associated with its members, with the provisions of the securities laws applicable to security futures products, the rules and regulations thereunder, and its rules;

      2. have rules that--

        1. are designed to prevent fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices, to promote just and equitable principles of trade, and, in general, to protect investors and the public interest, including rules governing sales practices and the advertising of security futures products reasonably comparable to those of other national securities associations registered pursuant to subsection (a) that are applicable to security futures products; and

        2. are not designed to regulate by virtue of any authority conferred by this title matters not related to the purposes of this title or the administration of the association;

      3. have rules that provide that (subject to any rule or order of the Commission pursuant to section 19(g)(2)) its members and persons associated with its members shall be appropriately disciplined for violation of any provision of the securities laws applicable to security futures products, the rules or regulations thereunder, or the rules of the association, by expulsion, suspension, limitation of activities, functions, and operations, fine, censure, being suspended or barred from being associated with a member, or any other fitting sanction; and

      4. have rules that ensure that members and natural persons associated with members meet such standards of training, experience, and competence necessary to effect transactions in security futures products and are tested for their knowledge of securities and security futures products.

    3. Exemption from rule change submission

      Such a securities association shall be exempt from submitting proposed rule changes pursuant to section 19(b), except that--

      1. the association shall file proposed rule changes related to higher margin levels, fraud or manipulation, recordkeeping, reporting, listing standards, or decimal pricing for security futures products, sales practices for, advertising of, or standards of training, experience, competence, or other qualifications for security futures products for persons who effect transactions in security futures products, or rules effectuating the association's obligation to enforce the securities laws pursuant to section 19(b)(7);

      2. the association shall file pursuant to sections 19(b)(1) and 19(b)(2) proposed rule changes related to margin, except for changes resulting in higher margin levels; and

      3. the association shall file pursuant to section 19(b)(1) proposed rule changes that have been abrogated by the Commission pursuant to section 19(b)(7)(C).

    4. Other exemptions

      Such a securities association shall be exempt from and shall not be required to enforce compliance by its members, and its members shall not, solely with respect to their transactions effected in security futures products, be required to comply, with the following provisions of this title and the rules thereunder:

      1. Section 8.

      2. Subsections (b)(1), (b)(3), (b)(4), (b)(5), (b)(8), (b)(10), (b)(11), (b)(12), (b)(13), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), and (i).

      3. Subsections (d), (f), and (k) of section 17.

      4. Subsections (a), (f), and (h) of section 19.

  12. Obligation to address duplicative regulation of dual registrants

    Consistent with this title, each national securities association registered pursuant to subsection (a) of this section shall issue such rules as are necessary to avoid duplicative or conflicting rules applicable to any broker or dealer registered with the Commission pursuant to section 15(b) (except paragraph (11) thereof), that is also registered with the commodity futures trading Commission pursuant to section 6f(a) of Title 7 (except paragraph (2) thereof), with respect to the application of

    1. rules of such national securities association of the type specified in section 15(c)(3)(B) involving security futures products; and

    2. similar rules of national securities associations registered pursuant to subsection (k) of this section and national securities exchanges registered pursuant to section 6(g) involving security futures products.

  13. Procedures and rules for security future products

    A national securities association registered pursuant to subsection (a) shall, not later than 8 months after December 21, 2000, implement the procedures specified in section 6(h)(5)(A) and adopt the rules specified in subparagraphs (B) and (C) of section 6(h)(5).


Legislative History


June 6, 1934, c. 404, Title I, § 15A, as added June 25, 1938, c. 677, § 1, 52 Stat. 1070; Aug. 20, 1964, Pub.L. 88-647, § 7, 78 Stat. 574; June 4, 1975, Pub.L. 94-29, § 12, 89 Stat. 127; Oct. 28, 1986, Pub.L. 99-571, Title I, § 102(g), 100 Stat. 3218; Oct. 15, 1990, Pub.L. 101-429, Title V, § 509, 104 Stat. 957; Dec. 17, 1993, Pub.L. 103-202, Title I, § 106(b)(1), Title III, § 303(a), (c), 107 Stat. 2350, 2364, 2366; Nov. 12, 1999, Pub.L. 106-102, Title II, § 203, , 113 Stat. 1391; Dec. 21, 2000, Pub.L. 106-554, § 1(a)(5), 114 Stat. 2763; Sept. 29, 2006, P.L. 109-290, §§ 5, 6, 120 Stat. 1319.

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