In what ways can an action under California’s Unfair Competition Act take the place of a class action?

California’s Unfair Competition Act is a very broad statute that allows an action to be brought to remedy any business practice that violates another law or that is otherwise unfair or fraudulent. Moreover, the Act allows one person to bring a lawsuit as a “private attorney general” on behalf of everyone injured by a practice that the Act reaches — even if the person bringing the suit has not been injured.

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How does a ‘private attorney general’ action differ from a class action?

A ‘private attorney general’ action is generally much simpler to pursue than a class action, because it does not require class certification or notice to absent parties. A ‘private attorney general’ action can be much more limited than a class action, because the Unfair Competition Act allows a more limited range of remedies. For instance, instead of monetary damages as in a class action, fines are collected under the Unfair Competition Law.

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In what ways do California class action procedures differ from federal class action procedures?

There are a number of ways in which California class action law is different from Federal Law. First, California law provides for four different types of class actions, and California law is in some ways more supportive of class actions. For example, California may be more lax in its requirements for giving notice to class members, determining the interest and typicality of the representative class members, and calculating the damages to which they are entitled.

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