Unfair Or Deceptive Acts Or Practices

Massachusetts has enacted a statute which prohibits any business from employing unfair or deceptive acts or practices in business dealings. Massachusetts General Laws chapter 93A. This act is modeled after the Federal Trade Commission Act. For this reason, the Massachusetts statute is sometimes referred to as the little FTC act. A claim is also generally referred to as a 93A case. Although there have been many cases interpreting the act among the best description of what is prohibited under the act is the description of one case which stated that business practices which would raise the eyebrow of the business person used to the rough and tumble of the business world are prohibited.

If a violation of the act is found the court has power to award multiple damages (two to three times actual losses at a minimum of $25.00), reasonable attorney's fees, expert fees, and costs. This ability requires that any allegation of unfair or deceptive practices be taken seriously.

There are two broad types of unfair or deceptive acts or practices cases. They are business to business and business to consumer cases. Each has separate requirements and must be treated differently.

Consumer unfair or deceptive acts or practices cases. In addition to the main claim in any case, one has to consider the possibility that any business involved violated 93A by its conduct. This would include, for example, whether a business which breached its contract with a consumer violated 93A by its conduct. If there is such a violation, a 93A letter must be sent prior to commencing a lawsuit. The statute can be found online and the Massachusetts Attorney General has an outstanding discussion of the requirements of the statute.

Similarly, if a business (or individual engaged in business) receives a 93A letter it is important to treat the matter seriously prior to responding. The matter must be closely examined and a reasonable reply made. The statute requires only a reasonable offer of settlement to extinguish 93A liability. A reasonable offer at this time will not only terminate 93A liability it will often result in settlement and save considerable costs and fees.

Business to business unfair or deceptive acts or practices cases. A business is prohibited from employing unfair or deceptive acts or practices against another business. Unlike consumer cases there is no requirement of a letter. These are sometimes called section 11 cases. It is important to review the statute and law in forming the prosecution or defense of this type of case.

Attorney Erickson has experience both bringing and defending business to consumer and business to business cases. For example, Attorney Erickson:

Responded to a 93A letter to a business from a consumer successfully preventing the consumer from commencing a case;

Representing a corporation and its chief executive officer before a Federal agency preventing a finding of a willful violation of Federal law which might have triggered 93A claims; and

Representing a tenant who successfully obtained and collected a 93A judgment including costs and attorney's fees,

Contact Attorney Erickson to discuss your prosecution or defense of your 93A case at 978-929-9995.