Ca. Litig. Rev. 2016

Unfair Competition Law

By Jessica Riggin and Sarah London

The Year in Review

In 2016, courts addressed key threshold questions about who can recover what under California’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL). For instance, what if an advertised sale lured you into a clothing store to purchase items, only to have you arrive at the checkout counter to find that the items were not on sale? Would you have a viable UCL claim if, due to embarrassment, you chose to buy some of the selected items at full price? What if you visited the emergency room as a "self-pay" patient and later received a hospital bill you considered to be unreasonably high? Could you pursue a UCL claim even if the hospital offered a financial assistance program? Can you obtain an injunction preventing the enforcement of a non-compete clause for contracts beyond your own—without class certification and without any intent of contracting with the offending company in the future? Courts in 2016 answered each of these questions in the affirmative, pointing to an overall trend toward increasing access to the courts for those alleging unfair business practices.


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