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Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to Debate Law Professor Chris Peterson on Payday Loans

January 24, 2008- Payday or postdated check loans can carry very high interest rates and have recently come under heavy criticism from consumer advocates. On Tuesday, January 29, the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah will host Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff for a debate on the lending practice.  

The 24th Annual Jefferson B. Fordham Debate will focus on usury, or excessively high interest with the stated resolution: “Consumer loans carrying interest and fees that amount to annual percentage rates over 36 percent, such as those often made by credit card companies and payday lenders, shall be prohibited.”

General Shurtleff will take the negative position and argue against the ban. On the other side will be Quinney’s own law professor and usury law expert, Christopher Peterson. Quinney College professor and former U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Mabey will moderate.

Debate organizers express delight that one of the college’s most outstanding alumni, Attorney General Shurtleff, has agreed to participate in the debate. As Utah’s highest-ranking law enforcement officer, Peterson notes that General Shurtleff carries significant responsibility with respect to consumer protection of Utah citizens.

“I am excited to participate in this debate because questions regarding excessive lending practices are such an important topic right now,” Peterson says. “With more Americans falling deeper and deeper into debt, many leaders, scholars, and citizens are beginning to revisit the question of whether there ought to be some reasonable limit to the prices creditors can charge.”

The debate will take place at 6 p.m. in the Sutherland Moot Courtroom at the Quinney College. A reception will be held in the main lobby (adjacent to the Moot Courtroom) preceding the debate at 5:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, and is offered for 1.5 hours of free Continuing Legal Education (CLE) credit.