Summary: H.R.6429 — 96th Congress (1979-1980)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House amended, Part I (05/16/1980)

(Reported to House from the Committee on Small Business with amendment, H. Rept. 96-1005 (Part I))

Small Business Equal Access to Justice Act - =Title I: Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy= - Amends title II of the Small Business Investment Act (Study of Small Business) to direct the Office of Advocacy within the Small Business Administration to assist the Attorney General, Federal agencies, and the Chairman of the Administrative Conference to facilitate relief afforded to small businesses under such Act.

Requires the Chief Counsel for Advocacy to submit biennial reports to the President and Congress on awards made to small businesses under such Act.

=Title II: Small Business Equal Access Justice= - Excludes from the definition of "party" for purposes of this Act: (1) an individual whose net worth exceeds $1,000,000; and (2) any sole owner of an unincorporated business, or any partnership, corporation, organization, or association, including an agricultural cooperative, as defined in the Agricultural Marketing Act, whose net worth exceeds $5,000,000.

Entitles a party with a direct and personal interest other than the United States to be awarded fees and other expenses, including attorney fees, which were incurred by such party in an administrative adjudication (excluding ratemaking and license application hearings), unless the adjudicative officer of the agency finds that the position of the agency was substantially justified or that special circumstances make an award unjust.

Requires each agency after consultation with the Chairman of the Administrative Conference to establish by rule uniform procedures for the consideration of such awards.

Permits a party dissatisfied with such award to petition for leave to appeal the decision in an appropriate Federal court, which may modify such decision upon finding that it was not substantially justified based upon a de nova review of the record.

Entitles a party other than the United States to be awarded fees and other expenses, including attorney fees, incurred in any civil action, other than a tort, brought by or against the United States, unless the court finds that the position of the United States was substantially justified or that special circumstances make an award unjust.

Allows the agency or the court to reduce any such awards to the extent that the party unduly and unreasonably protracted the final resolution of the matter in controversy.

Stipulates that such awards in administrative adjudications shall be paid by the particular agency, but prohibits authorization of appropriations to such agency for the specific purpose of such payments.

Limits the amount of attorney fees generally to $80 per hour absent special factors justifying a higher fee.

Authorizes a court to award reasonable attorney fees to the private party in any civil action brought by or against the United States or any agency, including the Post Office, or official of the United States acting in an official capacity, where the court may award such fees in such suits involving private parties (thus applying to Government litigation the common law and statutory exceptions to the "American rule" which requires parties to be responsible for their own attorney fees).

Directs the Administrative Conference of the United States and the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to report annually on the amount of fees and expenses awarded during the preceding fiscal year in such agency adjudications and civil actions.

Makes this Act applicable to any civil action pending on, or commencing after, its effective date (October 1, 1980), except for civil tax actions, which shall be subject to this Act six months after such date.

Directs the Office of the Chairman of the Administrative Conference of the United States and Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts to provide to the Small Business Office of Advocacy the information required to be collected in title I of this Act.