OVERVIEW OF DEVELOPMENTS –
In California, plaintiffs’lawyers and state and local prosecutorswield two powerful tools: the Unfair Competition Law, California Business and Professions Code sections 17200–17209 (“UCL”), and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, California Civil Code sections 1750–1784 (“CLRA”). The UCL forbids “unlawful, unfair or fraudulent” conduct in connection with virtually any type of business activity. With its sweeping liability standards and broad equitable remedies, the UCL is often the weapon of choice for plaintiffs’ lawyers and almost uniformly invoked by prosecutors in consumer cases. The CLRA is more defined in structure, but no less potent. The CLRA applies to any “consumer” transaction involving the “sale or lease of goods or services” and authorizes recovery of actual, statutory and punitive damages. The CLRA, which explicitly prohibits twenty-four separate business acts and practices, provides for streamlined class certification and dispositive motion proceedings.
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