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Notice of Interpretation of Rule G-17 Concerning Prompt Delivery of Securities

From time to time the Board has received inquiries from purchasers of municipal securities concerning the duty of municipal securities brokers and dealers to deliver securities to customers under the Board’s rules. In particular, customers have asked what, if any, remedies are available when long delays occur between the purchase, payment and delivery of municipal securities. The Board has advised such individuals that under rule G-17, the Board’s fair dealing rule, a municipal securities broker or dealer has a duty to deliver securities sold to customers in a prompt fashion.

The Board is mindful that a dealer’s failure to deliver municipal securities often is caused by its failure to receive delivery of the securities from another dealer or by other circumstances beyond its control. It nevertheless believes that a dealer’s duty to deliver securities promptly to customers is inherent in rule G-17.[1] A violation of that duty could occur, for example, if a dealer sells securities to a customer when it knows that it cannot effect delivery by the specified settlement date or within a reasonable length of time thereafter and does not disclose that fact to its customer.

The Board notes that customers who fail to receive securities are not entitled to take advantage of the Board’s procedures to close out a failed transaction which are available only for inter-dealer transactions under rule G-12. However, if a customer sustains a loss or otherwise is damaged by his dealer’s failure to deliver securities, he may seek recovery through the Board’s arbitration program or through litigation. These remedies may accrue to the customer whether or not a dealer’s failure to deliver violates rule G-17.


[1] The duty of a securities professional to complete promptly transactions with customers also has been found to flow from the federal securities laws by the SEC and the courts.