2013 Annual Overview of California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act
In California, plaintiffs’ lawyers possess two powerful bases upon which to bring class action litigation: the Unfair Competition Law, California Business and Professions Code sections 17200 through 17209 (the “UCL”); and the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, California Civil Code sections 1750 through 1784 (the “CLRA”). The UCL forbids “unfair, unlawful and fraudulent” conduct in connection with virtually any type of business activity. Indeed, with its sweeping liability standards and broad equitable remedies, the UCL has long been a primary “sword” for plaintiffs’ lawyers in California. Meanwhile, 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 explicitly prohibits 24 separate business acts or practices, and provides for streamlined class certification and dispositive motion proceedings.