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August 29, 2003
Press Contact: Allegra Young (512) 471-7330

Ronald Mann Tapped for Akard Lecture

Consumer credit expert to contrast and compare credit card systems for U.S., Japan, and Europe

AUSTIN, Texas -- UT Law's Professor Ronald Mann will deliver the John C. Akard Distinguished Lectureship on Wednesday, November 19, the night before UT Law's Annual Bankruptcy Conference. Mann's speech, entitled "Policy Implications of the Global Growth of Card-Based Payment Systems," will focus on the findings of his multi-country study exploring the differences in governments' attitudes towards consumer credit cards. He will present his findings on three main topics: 1) the legal, cultural and institutional reasons why people use credit and debit cards in various countries; (2) the effects that credit card use has on bankruptcy, levels of consumer credit, and the overall efficacy of the payment system; and (3) potential policy responses including such things as regulation of interchange fees, merchant surcharges for credit-card use, and limitations on marketing to minors.

"The use of credit cards differs dramatically from country to country. Few use credit cards as much as Americans, and nobody uses them to borrow as much as Americans. But regulators in Europe and Australia are taking stern steps to limit rising credit-card use in their countries, even though it is much less common than it is here," said Mann.

The speech, which builds on Mann's ground-breaking work in bankruptcy law, electronic commerce systems, and payment systems, will be held in UT Law's new Eidman Courtroom. The public is invited to attend.

Mann is the author of Electronic Commerce (with Jane Winn), Payment Systems, and numerous law review articles related to payment systems and commercial finance. He is a member of the American Law Institute and currently serves as the reporter for amendments to Articles 3 and 4 of the Uniform Commercial Code.

"Ronald's research explores the impact of different international attitudes towards consumer credit. As a result, we will be better able to understand what drives that market and the social and economic effects of credit card use as opposed to other forms of consumer credit. Ronald has already done important work in this field, and I look forward to hearing what he has to say," said international insolvency expert and award-winning UT Law professor Jay Westbrook.

This past July, Mann spoke in London to the U.K. Office of Fair Trading about "Current Developments in US Credit-Card Litigation," which focused on class actions against Visa and MasterCard about their debit-card policies and about their currency-conversion fees. He also spoke to 45 top level executives at the Bank of England about the policy implications of the consumer use of card-based payment systems. Mann spent six weeks at the Bank of Japan in Tokyo researching Japanese views of credit-card payment systems, and presented his findings to managers within the Bank of Japan in 2001.

Mann received his J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated first in his class and was managing editor of the Texas Law Review. After law school he clerked for Judge Joseph T. Sneed on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice Lewis F. Powell of the U.S. Supreme Court. He served as an Assistant to the Solicitor General of the United States. He is an accomplished appellate advocate, who has argued nine cases in the United States Supreme Court. Mann also practiced as a commercial real estate lawyer in Houston, where he represented both developers and lenders. At UT Law, he teaches various courses related to commercial transactions, intellectual property, and electronic commerce. He is the William Stamps Farish Professor in Law. Before joining the University of Texas School of Law faculty Mann taught at the University of Michigan Law School and Washington University School of Law.

The John C. Akard Distinguished Lectureship Program was named for The Honorable John C. Akard, '57, a bankruptcy judge sitting in San Antonio, Texas. Professor Elizabeth Warren of Harvard Law School, and formerly of UT Law, was awarded the lectureship in 2001.