California’s Unfair Competition Law Now Requires Representative Claimant To Have Injury And Meet Class Action Prerequisites

In 2004, the voters of California approved Proposition 64 to amend the Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code §§ 17200, et al.) (“UCL”). Until that time, the statute permitted individuals to act as private attorneys general to bring lawsuits for alleged unfair competition on behalf of others even if the plaintiffs themselves had not suffered loss of money or property. Because the traditional requirements for class actions and individual standing did not have to be met, the UCL had been the subject of controversy. Proposition 64 added the requirements that the representative have suffered injury in fact, and that the action “complies with Code of Civil Procedure Section 382.”

In Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1756 v. Superior Court, 55 Cal. Rptr. 3d 585 (Cal. App. (2d Dist.) Feb. 28, 2007, modified Mar. 22, 2007), the court held that that despite the lack of any express language in proposition 64 concerning class actions, the reference to § 382 was meant to engraft onto the Unfair Competition Law the requirement that any representative action proceed as a class action and satisfy traditional certification requirements.

[Note that on June 20, 2007, the California Supreme Court granted review, superceding this opinion. Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1756 v. Superior Court, 161 P.3d 1, 61 Cal.Rptr.3d 459 (Cal. June 20, 2007).]

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