2019 Annual Overview of California’s Unfair Competition Law and Consumers Legal Remedies Act
In California, class action lawyers wield 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 the weapon of choice for plaintiffs’ lawyers. 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 24 separate business acts and practices, provides for streamlined class certification and dispositive motion proceedings.
This article discusses decisions from California and federal courts in 2018 provided important direction under the UCL and CLRA in the areas of arbitration, Article III and statutory standing, unconscionability and judicial abstention, the right to a jury trial, limits on statewide relief, duties of disclosure and other issues.