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e-CFR data is current as of August 5, 2020

Title 19Chapter IISubchapter C → Part 212


Title 19: Customs Duties


PART 212—IMPLEMENTATION OF THE EQUAL ACCESS TO JUSTICE ACT


Contents

Subpart A—General Provisions

§212.01   Purpose.
§212.02   When the Act applies.
§212.03   Proceedings covered.
§212.04   Eligibility of applicants.
§212.05   Standards for awards.
§212.06   Allowable fees and expenses.
§212.07   Rulemaking on maximum rates for attorney fees.

Subpart B—Information Required From Applicants

§212.10   Contents of application.
§212.11   Net worth exhibit.
§212.12   Documentation of fees and expenses.
§212.13   When an application may be filed.

Subpart C—Procedures for Considering Applications

§212.20   Filing and service of documents.
§212.21   Answer to application.
§212.22   Reply.
§212.23   Comments by other parties.
§212.24   Settlement.
§212.25   Further proceedings.
§212.26   Determination.
§212.27   Agency review.
§212.28   Judicial review.
§212.29   Payment of award.

Authority: Sec. 203(a)(1), Pub. L. 96-481, 94 Stat. 2325 (5 U.S.C. 504(c)(1)).

Source: 47 FR 9391, Mar. 5, 1982, unless otherwise noted.

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Subpart A—General Provisions

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§212.01   Purpose.

(a) The Equal Access to Justice Act, 5 U.S.C. 504 (called “the Act” in this part), provides for the award of attorney fees and other expenses to eligible individuals and entities who are parties to certain administrative proceedings (called “adversary adjudications”) before an agency. Under the Act an eligible party may receive an award when it prevails over an agency, unless the agency's position in the proceeding was substantially justified or special circumstances make an award unjust. The rules in this part describe the parties eligible for awards and the Commission proceedings that are covered. They also explain how to apply for awards, and the procedures and standards that the Commission will use to make them.

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§212.02   When the Act applies.

The Act applies to any adversary adjudication pending before the Commission at any time between October 1, 1981 and September 30, 1984. This includes proceedings begun before October 1, 1981 if final Commission action has not been taken before that date, and proceedings pending on September 30, 1984, regardless of when they were initiated or when final Commission action occurs.

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§212.03   Proceedings covered.

(a) The Act applies to adversary adjudications conducted by the Commission. These are adjudications under 5 U.S.C. 554 in which the position of the Commission is presented by an attorney or other representative who enters an appearance and participates in the proceeding. The Commission proceedings covered are those conducted under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, 19 U.S.C. 1337. No award shall be made, however, for fees and expenses related to those portions of the proceedings conducted for the consideration of relief, the public interest, and bonding pursuant to subsections 337 (d), (e), and (f) of the Tariff Act of 1930 and 19 CFR 210.14.

(b) An award may be made against the Commission only in connection with a proceeding brought by the Commission upon its own complaint.

(c) If a proceeding includes both matters covered by the Act and matters specifically excluded from coverage, any award made will include only fees and expenses related to covered issues.

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§212.04   Eligibility of applicants.

(a) To be eligible for an award of attorney fees and other expenses under the Act, the applicant must be a party to the adversary adjudication for which it seeks an award. The term party is defined in 5 U.S.C. 551(3) and 19 CFR 210.04. The applicant must show that it meets all conditions of eligibility set out in this subpart and in subpart B.

(b) The types of eligible applicants are as follows:

(1) An individual with a net worth of not more than $1 million;

(2) The sole owner of an unincorporated business who has a net worth of not more than $5 million, including both personal and business interests, and not more than 500 employees;

(3) A charitable or other tax-exempt organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)) with not more than 500 employees;

(4) A cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1144j(a)) with not more than 500 employees; and

(5) Any other partnership, corporation, association, or public or private organization with a net worth of not more than $5 million and not more than 500 employees.

(c) For the purpose of eligibility, the net worth and number of employees of an applicant shall be determined as of the date the adversary adjudication was initiated.

(d) An applicant who owns an unincorporated business will be considered to be an “individual” rather than a “sole owner of an unincorporated business” if the issues on which the applicant prevails are related primarily to personal interests rather than to business interests.

(e) The employees of an applicant include all persons who regularly perform services for remuneration for the applicant under the applicant's direction and control. Part-time employees shall be included on a proportional basis.

(f) The net worth and number of employees of the applicant and all of its affiliates shall be aggregated to determine eligibility. Any individual, corporation or other entity that directly or indirectly controls or owns a majority of the voting shares or other interest of the applicant, or any corporation or other entity of which the applicant directly or indirectly owns or controls a majority of the voting shares or other interest, will be considered an affiliate for purposes of this part, unless the presiding officer determines that such treatment would be unjust and contrary to the purposes of the Act in light of the actual relationship between the affiliated entities. In addition, the presiding officer may determine that financial relationships of the applicant other than those described in this paragraph constitute special circumstances that would make an award unjust.

(g) An applicant that participates in a proceeding primarily on behalf of one or more other persons or entities that would be ineligible is not itself eligible for an award.

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§212.05   Standards for awards.

(a) The determination whether an applicant is a prevailing party shall be made on a case-by-case basis.

(b) A prevailing applicant may receive an award for fees and expenses incurred in connection with an adversary adjudication, or in a significant and discrete substantive portion of the adversary adjudication, unless the position of the Commission investigative attorney was substantially justified. The burden of proof that an award should not be made to an eligible prevailing applicant is on the Commission investigative attorney. An award may be avoided by showing that the position of the Commission was reasonable in law and fact.

(c) An award will be reduced or denied if the applicant has unduly or unreasonably protracted the adversary adjudication or if special circumstances make the award sought unjust. The burden of proof that an award should be reduced or denied for either of these reasons is on the Commission investigative attorney.

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§212.06   Allowable fees and expenses.

(a) Awards will be based on rates customarily charged by persons engaged in the business of acting as attorneys, agents and expert witnesses, even if the services were made available without charge or at a reduced rate to the applicant.

(b) No award for the fee of an attorney or agent under these rules may exceed $75.00 per hour. No award to compensate an expert witness may exceed the highest rate at which the Commission pays expert witnesses. However, an award may include the reasonable expenses of the attorney, agent, or expert witness as a separate item if the attorney, agent or expert witness ordinarily charges clients separately for such expenses.

(c) In determining the reasonableness of the fee sought for an attorney, agent or expert witness, the presiding officer shall consider the following:

(1) If the attorney, agent or expert witness is in private practice, his or her customary fee for similar services, or, if an employee of the applicant, the fully allocated cost of the service;

(2) The prevailing rate for similar services in the community in which the attorney, agent or expert witness ordinarily performs services;

(3) The time actually spent in the representation of the applicant;

(4) The time reasonably spent in light of the difficulty or complexity of the issues in the adversary adjudication; and

(5) Such other factors as may bear on the value of the services provided.

(d) The reasonable cost of any study, analysis, engineering report, test, project or similar matter prepared on behalf of a party may be awarded to the extent that the charge for the service does not exceed the prevailing rate for similar services and the study or other matter was necessary for preparation of the applicant's case.

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§212.07   Rulemaking on maximum rates for attorney fees.

(a) If warranted by an increase in the cost of living or by special circumstances (such as limited availability of attorneys qualified to handle certain types of proceedings), the Commission may adopt regulations providing that attorney fees may be awarded at a rate higher than $75 per hour in the proceedings covered by this part. The Commission will conduct any rulemaking proceedings for this purpose under the informal rulemaking procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act.

(b) Any person may file with the Commission a petition for rulemaking to increase the maximum rate for attorney fees. The petition should identify the rate the petitioner believes the Commission should establish. It should also explain fully the reasons why the higher rate is warranted. The Commission will respond to the petition within 60 days after it is filed by initiating a rulemaking proceeding, denying the petition, or taking other appropriate action.

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Subpart B—Information Required From Applicants

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§212.10   Contents of application.

(a) An application for an award of fees and expenses under the Act shall identify the applicant and the adversary adjudication for which an award is sought. The application shall show that the applicant has prevailed and identify the position of the Commission investigative attorney that the applicant alleges was not substantially justified. Unless the applicant is an individual, the application shall also state the number of employees of the applicant and describe briefly the type and purpose of its organization or business.

(b) The application shall also include a statement that the applicant's net worth does not exceed $1 million (if an individual) or $5 million (for all other applicants, including their affiliates). However, an applicant may omit this statement if:

(1) It attaches a copy of a ruling by the Internal Revenue Service that it qualifies as an organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3)) or, in the case of a tax-exempt organization not required to obtain a ruling from the Internal Revenue Service on its exempt status, a statement that describes the basis for the applicant's belief that it qualifies under such section; or

(2) It states that it is a cooperative association as defined in section 15(a) of the Agricultural Marketing Act (12 U.S.C. 1141j(a)).

(c) The application shall state the amount of fees and expenses for which an award is sought.

(d) The application may also include any other matters that the applicant wishes the Commission to consider in determining whether and in what amount an award should be made.

(e) The application shall be signed by the applicant or an authorized officer or attorney of the applicant. It shall also contain or be accompanied by a written verification under oath or under penalty of perjury that the information provided in the application is true and correct.

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§212.11   Net worth exhibit.

(a) Each applicant except a qualified tax-exempt organization or cooperative association must provide with its application a detailed exhibit showing the net worth of the applicant and any affiliates (as defined in §212.04(f) of this part) when the proceeding was initiated. The exhibit may be in any form convenient to the applicant that provides full disclosure of the applicant's and its affiliates' assets and liabilities and is sufficient to determine whether the applicant qualifies under the standards in this part. The presiding officer may require an applicant to file additional information to determine its eligibility for an award.

(b) Ordinarily, the net worth exhibit will be included in the public record of the proceeding. However, an applicant that objects to public disclosure of information in any portion of the exhibit and believes there are legal grounds for withholding it from disclosure may submit that portion of the exhibit directly to the presiding officer in a sealed envelope labeled “Confidential Financial Information,” accompanied by a motion to withhold the information from public disclosure. The motion shall describe the information sought to be withheld and explain in detail why it falls within one or more of the specific exemptions from mandatory disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(1)-(9), why public disclosure of the information would adversely affect the applicant, and why disclosure is not required in the public interest. The material in question shall be served on the Commission investigative attorney or counsel representing another agency against which the applicant seeks an award, but need not be served on any other party to the proceeding. If the presiding officer finds that the information should not be withheld from disclosure, it shall be placed in the public record of the proceeding. Otherwise, any request to inspect or copy the exhibit shall be disposed of in accordance with the Commission's established procedures under the Freedom of Information Act, 19 CFR 201.17-201.21.

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§212.12   Documentation of fees and expenses.

The application shall be accompanied by full documentation of the fees and expenses, including the cost of any study, analysis, engineering report, test, project or similar matter, for which an award is sought. A separate itemized statement shall be submitted for each professional firm or individual whose services are covered by the application, showing the hours spent in connection with the proceeding by each individual, a description of the specific services performed, the rate at which each fee has been computed, any expenses for which reimbursement is sought, the total amount claimed, and the total amount paid or payable by the applicant or by any other person or entity for the services provided. The presiding officer may require the applicant to provide vouchers, receipts, or other substantiation for any expenses claimed.

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§212.13   When an application may be filed.

(a) An application may be filed whenever the applicant has prevailed in the adversary adjudication or in a significant and discrete substantive portion of the adversary adjudication, but in no case later than 30 days after the Commission's final disposition of the adversary adjudication.

(b) If review or reconsideration is sought or taken of a determination as to which an applicant believes it has prevailed, proceedings for the award of fees shall be stayed pending final disposition of the underlying controversy.

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Subpart C—Procedures for Considering Applications

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§212.20   Filing and service of documents.

Any application for an award or other pleading or document related to an application shall be filed and served on all parties to the adversary adjudication in the same manner as other pleadings in the adversary adjudication, except as provided in §212.11(b) for confidential financial information.

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§212.21   Answer to application.

(a) Within 30 days after service of an application, the Commission investigative attorney shall file an answer to the application.

(b) If the applicant and the Commission investigative attorney believe that the issues in the fee application can be settled, they may jointly file a statement of their intent to negotiate a settlement. The filing of this statement shall extend the time for filing an answer for an additional 30 days, and further extensions may be granted by the presiding officer upon request by the applicant and the Commission investigative attorney.

(c) The answer shall explain in detail any objections to the award requested and identify the facts relied on in support of the position of the Commission. If the answer is based on any alleged facts not already in the record of the adversary adjudication, the Commission investigative attorney shall include with the answer supporting affidavits or a request for further proceedings under §212.25.

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§212.22   Reply.

Within 15 days after service of an answer, the applicant may file a reply. If the reply is based on any alleged facts not already in the record of the adversary adjudication, the applicant shall include with the reply either supporting affidavits or a request for further proceedings under §212.25.

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§212.23   Comments by other parties.

Any party to the adversary adjudication other than the applicant and the Commission investigative attorney may file comments on an application within 30 days after it is served or on an answer within 15 days after it is served. A commenting party may not participate further in proceedings on the application unless the presiding officer determines that the public interest requires such participation in order to permit full exploration of matters raised in the comments.

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§212.24   Settlement.

The applicant and the Commission may agree on a proposed settlement of the award before final action on the application, either in connection with a settlement of the underlying adversary adjudication, or after the underlying adversary adjudication has been concluded. If a prevailing party and the Commission investigative attorney agree on a proposed settlement of an award before an application has been filed, the application shall be filed with the proposed settlement.

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§212.25   Further proceedings.

(a) Ordinarily, the determination of an award will be made on the basis of the written record. However, on request of either the applicant or the Commission investigative attorney, or on his or her own initiative, the presiding officer may in his or her discretion order further proceedings, such as an informal conference, oral argument, additional written submissions or an evidentiary hearing. Such further proceedings shall be held only when necessary for full and fair resolution of the issues arising from the application, and shall be conducted as promptly as possible.

(b) A request that the presiding officer order further proceedings under this section shall specifically identify the information sought or the disputed issues and shall explain why the additional proceedings are necessary to resolve the issues.

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§212.26   Determination.

The presiding officer shall issue a recommended determination on the application within 90 days after completion of proceedings on the application. The determination shall include written findings and conclusions on the applicant's eligibility and status as prevailing party, and an explanation of the reasons for any difference between the amount requested and the amount awarded. The determination shall also include, if at issue, findings on whether the position of the Commission investigative attorney was substantially justified, whether the applicant unduly protracted the proceedings, or whether special circumstances make an award unjust.

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§212.27   Agency review.

Except as otherwise authorized by the presiding officer, the parties shall be allowed ten (10) days from the date of service of the recommended determination to file exceptions to the recommended determination and alternative findings of fact and conclusions of law with the Commission. Upon receipt of the recommended determination, the Commission shall review the same and issue a final determination on the application or remand the application to the presiding officer for further proceedings.

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§212.28   Judicial review.

Judicial review of final Commission determinations on awards may be sought as provided in 5 U.S.C. 504(c)(2).

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§212.29   Payment of award.

An applicant seeking payment of an award shall submit to the Office of Finance of the Commission a copy of the Commission's final determination granting the award, accompanied by a statement that the applicant will not seek review of the decision in the United States courts. The address for submission to the Commission is: United States International Trade Commission, Office of Finance, 500 E Street SW., Washington, DC 20436. The Commission will pay the amount to the applicant within 60 days, unless judicial review of the award or of the underlying determination of the adversary adjudication has been sought by the applicant or any other party to the proceeding.

[68 FR 32979, June 3, 2003]

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