Code Section Group

Business and Professions Code - BPC

DIVISION 7. GENERAL BUSINESS REGULATIONS [16000 - 18001]

  ( Division 7 added by Stats. 1941, Ch. 61. )

PART 2. PRESERVATION AND REGULATION OF COMPETITION [16600 - 17365]

  ( Part 2 added by Stats. 1941, Ch. 526. )

CHAPTER 5. Enforcement [17200 - 17210]
  ( Chapter 5 added by Stats. 1977, Ch. 299. )

17200.
  

As used in this chapter, unfair competition shall mean and include any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising and any act prohibited by Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 17500) of Part 3 of Division 7 of the Business and Professions Code.

(Amended by Stats. 1992, Ch. 430, Sec. 2. Effective January 1, 1993.)

17201.
  

As used in this chapter, the term person shall mean and include natural persons, corporations, firms, partnerships, joint stock companies, associations and other organizations of persons.

(Added by Stats. 1977, Ch. 299.)

17201.5.
  

As used in this chapter:

(a) “Board within the Department of Consumer Affairs” includes any commission, bureau, division, or other similarly constituted agency within the Department of Consumer Affairs.

(b) “Local consumer affairs agency” means and includes any city or county body which primarily provides consumer protection services.

(Added by Stats. 1979, Ch. 897.)

17202.
  

Notwithstanding Section 3369 of the Civil Code, specific or preventive relief may be granted to enforce a penalty, forfeiture, or penal law in a case of unfair competition.

(Added by Stats. 1977, Ch. 299.)

17203.
  

Injunctive Relief—Court Orders

Any person who engages, has engaged, or proposes to engage in unfair competition may be enjoined in any court of competent jurisdiction. The court may make such orders or judgments, including the appointment of a receiver, as may be necessary to prevent the use or employment by any person of any practice which constitutes unfair competition, as defined in this chapter, or as may be necessary to restore to any person in interest any money or property, real or personal, which may have been acquired by means of such unfair competition. Any person may pursue representative claims or relief on behalf of others only if the claimant meets the standing requirements of Section 17204 and complies with Section 382 of the Code of Civil Procedure, but these limitations do not apply to claims brought under this chapter by the Attorney General, or any district attorney, county counsel, city attorney, or city prosecutor in this state.

(Amended November 2, 2004, by initiative Proposition 64, Sec. 2.)

17204.
  

Actions for Injunctions by Attorney General, District Attorney, County Counsel, and City Attorneys

Actions for relief pursuant to this chapter shall be prosecuted exclusively in a court of competent jurisdiction by the Attorney General or a district attorney or by a county counsel authorized by agreement with the district attorney in actions involving violation of a county ordinance, or by a city attorney of a city having a population in excess of 750,000, or by a city attorney in a city and county or, with the consent of the district attorney, by a city prosecutor in a city having a full-time city prosecutor in the name of the people of the State of California upon their own complaint or upon the complaint of a board, officer, person, corporation, or association, or by a person who has suffered injury in fact and has lost money or property as a result of the unfair competition.

(Amended by Stats. 2008, Ch. 179, Sec. 23. Effective January 1, 2009. Note: This section was amended on Nov. 2, 2004, by initiative Prop. 64.)

17205.
  

Unless otherwise expressly provided, the remedies or penalties provided by this chapter are cumulative to each other and to the remedies or penalties available under all other laws of this state.

(Added by Stats. 1977, Ch. 299.)

17206.
  

Civil Penalty for Violation of Chapter

(a) Any person who engages, has engaged, or proposes to engage in unfair competition shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) for each violation, which shall be assessed and recovered in a civil action brought in the name of the people of the State of California by the Attorney General, by any district attorney, by any county counsel authorized by agreement with the district attorney in actions involving violation of a county ordinance, by any city attorney of a city having a population in excess of 750,000, by any city attorney of any city and county, or, with the consent of the district attorney, by a city prosecutor in any city having a full-time city prosecutor, in any court of competent jurisdiction.

(b) The court shall impose a civil penalty for each violation of this chapter. In assessing the amount of the civil penalty, the court shall consider any one or more of the relevant circumstances presented by any of the parties to the case, including, but not limited to, the following: the nature and seriousness of the misconduct, the number of violations, the persistence of the misconduct, the length of time over which the misconduct occurred, the willfulness of the defendant’s misconduct, and the defendant’s assets, liabilities, and net worth.

(c) If the action is brought by the Attorney General, one-half of the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered, and one-half to the General Fund. If the action is brought by a district attorney or county counsel, the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered. Except as provided in subdivision (e), if the action is brought by a city attorney or city prosecutor, one-half of the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the city in which the judgment was entered, and one-half to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered. The aforementioned funds shall be for the exclusive use by the Attorney General, the district attorney, the county counsel, and the city attorney for the enforcement of consumer protection laws.

(d) The Unfair Competition Law Fund is hereby created as a special account within the General Fund in the State Treasury. The portion of penalties that is payable to the General Fund or to the Treasurer recovered by the Attorney General from an action or settlement of a claim made by the Attorney General pursuant to this chapter or Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 17500) of Part 3 shall be deposited into this fund. Moneys in this fund, upon appropriation by the Legislature, shall be used by the Attorney General to support investigations and prosecutions of California’s consumer protection laws, including implementation of judgments obtained from such prosecutions or investigations and other activities which are in furtherance of this chapter or Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 17500) of Part 3. Notwithstanding Section 13340 of the Government Code, any civil penalties deposited in the fund pursuant to the National Mortgage Settlement, as provided in Section 12531 of the Government Code, are continuously appropriated to the Department of Justice for the purpose of offsetting General Fund costs incurred by the Department of Justice.

(e) If the action is brought at the request of a board within the Department of Consumer Affairs or a local consumer affairs agency, the court shall determine the reasonable expenses incurred by the board or local agency in the investigation and prosecution of the action.

Before any penalty collected is paid out pursuant to subdivision (c), the amount of any reasonable expenses incurred by the board shall be paid to the Treasurer for deposit in the special fund of the board described in Section 205. If the board has no such special fund, the moneys shall be paid to the Treasurer. The amount of any reasonable expenses incurred by a local consumer affairs agency shall be paid to the general fund of the municipality or county that funds the local agency.

(f) If the action is brought by a city attorney of a city and county, the entire amount of the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the city and county in which the judgment was entered for the exclusive use by the city attorney for the enforcement of consumer protection laws. However, if the action is brought by a city attorney of a city and county for the purposes of civil enforcement pursuant to Section 17980 of the Health and Safety Code or Article 3 (commencing with Section 11570) of Chapter 10 of Division 10 of the Health and Safety Code, either the penalty collected shall be paid entirely to the treasurer of the city and county in which the judgment was entered or, upon the request of the city attorney, the court may order that up to one-half of the penalty, under court supervision and approval, be paid for the purpose of restoring, maintaining, or enhancing the premises that were the subject of the action, and that the balance of the penalty be paid to the treasurer of the city and county.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 32, Sec. 1. Effective June 27, 2012. Note: This section was amended on Nov. 2, 2004, by initiative Prop. 64.)

17206.1.
  

(a) (1) In addition to any liability for a civil penalty pursuant to Section 17206, a person who violates this chapter, and the act or acts of unfair competition are perpetrated against one or more senior citizens or disabled persons, may be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) for each violation, which may be assessed and recovered in a civil action as prescribed in Section 17206.

(2) Subject to subdivision (d), any civil penalty shall be paid as prescribed by subdivisions (b) and (c) of Section 17206.

(b) As used in this section, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) “Senior citizen” means a person who is 65 years of age or older.

(2) “Disabled person” means a person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.

(A) As used in this subdivision, “physical or mental impairment” means any of the following:

(i) A physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss substantially affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory, including speech organs; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; genitourinary; hemic and lymphatic; skin; or endocrine.

(ii) A mental or psychological disorder, including intellectual disability, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities.

“Physical or mental impairment” includes, but is not limited to, diseases and conditions including orthopedic, visual, speech, and hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, intellectual disability, and emotional illness.

(B) “Major life activities” means functions that include caring for one’s self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working.

(c) In determining whether to impose a civil penalty pursuant to subdivision (a) and the amount thereof, the court shall consider, in addition to any other appropriate factors, the extent to which one or more of the following factors are present:

(1) Whether the defendant knew or should have known that his or her conduct was directed to one or more senior citizens or disabled persons.

(2) Whether the defendant’s conduct caused one or more senior citizens or disabled persons to suffer any of the following: loss or encumbrance of a primary residence, principal employment, or source of income; substantial loss of property set aside for retirement, or for personal or family care and maintenance; or substantial loss of payments received under a pension or retirement plan or a government benefits program, or assets essential to the health or welfare of the senior citizen or disabled person.

(3) Whether one or more senior citizens or disabled persons are substantially more vulnerable than other members of the public to the defendant’s conduct because of age, poor health or infirmity, impaired understanding, restricted mobility, or disability, and actually suffered substantial physical, emotional, or economic damage resulting from the defendant’s conduct.

(d) A court of competent jurisdiction hearing an action pursuant to this section may make orders and judgments as necessary to restore to a senior citizen or disabled person money or property, real or personal that may have been acquired by means of a violation of this chapter. Restitution ordered pursuant to this subdivision shall be given priority over recovery of a civil penalty designated by the court as imposed pursuant to subdivision (a), but shall not be given priority over a civil penalty imposed pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 17206. If the court determines that full restitution cannot be made to those senior citizens or disabled persons, either at the time of judgment or by a future date determined by the court, then restitution under this subdivision shall be made on a pro rata basis depending on the amount of loss.

(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 457, Sec. 3. Effective January 1, 2013.)

17207.
  

(a) Any person who intentionally violates any injunction prohibiting unfair competition issued pursuant to Section 17203 shall be liable for a civil penalty not to exceed six thousand dollars ($6,000) for each violation. Where the conduct constituting a violation is of a continuing nature, each day of that conduct is a separate and distinct violation. In determining the amount of the civil penalty, the court shall consider all relevant circumstances, including, but not limited to, the extent of the harm caused by the conduct constituting a violation, the nature and persistence of that conduct, the length of time over which the conduct occurred, the assets, liabilities, and net worth of the person, whether corporate or individual, and any corrective action taken by the defendant.

(b) The civil penalty prescribed by this section shall be assessed and recovered in a civil action brought in any county in which the violation occurs or where the injunction was issued in the name of the people of the State of California by the Attorney General or by any district attorney, any county counsel authorized by agreement with the district attorney in actions involving violation of a county ordinance, or any city attorney in any court of competent jurisdiction within his or her jurisdiction without regard to the county from which the original injunction was issued. An action brought pursuant to this section to recover civil penalties shall take precedence over all civil matters on the calendar of the court except those matters to which equal precedence on the calendar is granted by law.

(c) If such an action is brought by the Attorney General, one-half of the penalty collected pursuant to this section shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered, and one-half to the State Treasurer. If brought by a district attorney or county counsel the entire amount of the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment is entered. If brought by a city attorney or city prosecutor, one-half of the penalty shall be paid to the treasurer of the county in which the judgment was entered and one-half to the city, except that if the action was brought by a city attorney of a city and county the entire amount of the penalty collected shall be paid to the treasurer of the city and county in which the judgment is entered.

(d) If the action is brought at the request of a board within the Department of Consumer Affairs or a local consumer affairs agency, the court shall determine the reasonable expenses incurred by the board or local agency in the investigation and prosecution of the action.

Before any penalty collected is paid out pursuant to subdivision (c), the amount of the reasonable expenses incurred by the board shall be paid to the State Treasurer for deposit in the special fund of the board described in Section 205. If the board has no such special fund, the moneys shall be paid to the State Treasurer. The amount of the reasonable expenses incurred by a local consumer affairs agency shall be paid to the general fund of the municipality or county which funds the local agency.

(Amended by Stats. 1991, Ch. 1196, Sec. 3.)

17208.
  

Any action to enforce any cause of action pursuant to this chapter shall be commenced within four years after the cause of action accrued. No cause of action barred under existing law on the effective date of this section shall be revived by its enactment.

(Added by Stats. 1977, Ch. 299.)

17209.
  

If a violation of this chapter is alleged or the application or construction of this chapter is in issue in any proceeding in the Supreme Court of California, a state court of appeal, or the appellate division of a superior court, each person filing any brief or petition with the court in that proceeding shall serve, within three days of filing with the court, a copy of that brief or petition on the Attorney General, directed to the attention of the Consumer Law Section at a service address designated on the Attorney General’s official Web site for service of papers under this section or, if no service address is designated, at the Attorney General’s office in San Francisco, California, and on the district attorney of the county in which the lower court action or proceeding was originally filed. Upon the Attorney General’s or district attorney’s request, each person who has filed any other document, including all or a portion of the appellate record, with the court in addition to a brief or petition shall provide a copy of that document without charge to the Attorney General or the district attorney within five days of the request. The time for service may be extended by the Chief Justice or presiding justice or judge for good cause shown. No judgment or relief, temporary or permanent, shall be granted or opinion issued until proof of service of the brief or petition on the Attorney General and district attorney is filed with the court.

(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 529, Sec. 4. Effective January 1, 2005.)

17210.
  

(a) For purposes of this section, “hotel” means any hotel, motel, bed and breakfast inn, or other similar transient lodging establishment, but it does not include any residential hotel as defined in Section 50519 of the Health and Safety Code. “Innkeeper” means the owner or operator of a hotel, or the duly authorized agent or employee of the owner or operator.

(b) For purposes of this section, “handbill” means, and is specifically limited to, any tangible commercial solicitation to guests of the hotel urging that they patronize any commercial enterprise.

(c) Every person (hereinafter “distributor”) engages in unfair competition for purposes of this chapter who deposits, places, throws, scatters, casts, or otherwise distributes any handbill to any individual guest rooms in any hotel, including, but not limited to, placing, throwing, leaving, or attaching any handbill adjacent to, upon, or underneath any guest room door, doorknob, or guest room entryway, where either the innkeeper has expressed objection to handbill distribution, either orally to the distributor or by the posting of a sign or other notice in a conspicuous place within the lobby area and at all points of access from the exterior of the premises to guest room areas indicating that handbill distribution is prohibited, or the distributor has received written notice pursuant to subdivision (e) that the innkeeper has expressed objection to the distribution of handbills to guest rooms in the hotel.

(d) Every person (hereinafter “contractor”) engages in unfair competition for purposes of this chapter who causes or directs any other person, firm, business, or entity to distribute, or cause the distribution of, any handbill to any individual guest rooms in any hotel in violation of subdivision (c) of this section, if the contractor has received written notice from the innkeeper objecting to the distribution of handbills to individual guest rooms in the hotel.

(e) Every contractor who causes or directs any distributor to distribute, or cause the distribution of, any handbills to any individual guest rooms in any hotel, if the contractor has received written notice from the innkeeper or from any other contractor or intermediary pursuant to this subdivision, objecting to the distribution of handbills to individual guest rooms in the hotel has failed to provide a written copy of that notice to each distributor prior to the commencement of distribution of handbills by the distributor or by any person hired or retained by the distributor for that purpose, or, within 24 hours following the receipt of the notice by the contractor if received after the commencement of distribution, and has failed to instruct and demand any distributor to not distribute, or to cease the distribution of, the handbills to individual guest rooms in any hotel for which such a notice has been received is in violation of this section.

(f) Any written notice given, or caused to be given, by the innkeeper pursuant to or required by any provision of this section shall be deemed to be in full force and effect until such time as the notice is revoked in writing.

(g) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prohibit the distribution of a handbill to guest rooms in any hotel where the distribution has been requested or approved in writing by the innkeeper, or to any individual guest room when the occupant thereof has affirmatively requested or approved the distribution of the handbill during the duration of the guest’s occupancy.

(Added by Stats. 1999, Ch. 354, Sec. 1. Effective January 1, 2000.)

BPCBusiness and Professions Code - BPC