Hastings Law Journal


Prior to November 3, 2004, one of the most expansive unfair competition laws in the country was on the books in California. Unlike most states, where plaintiffs are barred from bringing unfair competition claims unless they have suffered an injury-infact (or barred altogether from bringing such an action), in California any individual could bring an action where the defendant had engaged in a broad class of violations known as "unfair business practices." On November 2, 2004, the California electorate voted to end that practice by enacting Proposition 64. Now private plaintiffs must not only prove that they have suffered an injury-in-fact and some form of pecuniary loss, but they must also satisfy new procedural requirements in order to bring an action in the first place. The Note explores whether the amendments to the UCL enacted by the passage of Proposition 64 apply to all pending actions, or only to actions brought after Proposition 64's effective date.

Part I explores the historical framework of California's UCL, the history leading up to the passage of Proposition 64, and the contents and effects of the initiative. Part II details the two cases heard by the California Supreme Court related to this issue, and examines the arguments presented before the Court. Part III studies the divergent arguments both in support of and against applying Proposition 64 to pending actions. It also explores a related issue: whether and under what circumstances plaintiffs may amend their complaints to satisfy the newly-enacted procedural and standing requirements. The Note concludes by finding that, based on the contents of and the circumstances surrounding the passage of Proposition 64, the California Supreme Court correctly concluded that the initiative applies to pending actions.

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