Monday, August 21, 2017

reading list: Willis on remedies for consumer fraud

80 Law and Contemporary Problems 7-41 (2017)

In resolving cases of unfair, abusive, and deceptive acts and practices, consumer protection enforcement agencies often prospectively dictate—in great detail—the design of defendants’ marketing, websites, disclosures, sales processes, and products. However, advances in technology and analytics increasingly allow defendants to comply meticulously with these precise requirements while simultaneously continuing to deceive and injure consumers.

By trying to micromanage defendants’ conduct, enforcement agencies fail to protect consumers, squander precious enforcement resources, and create pointless compliance work for defendants. Defendants themselves are in the best position to ascertain how to cure the confusion and ill consequences they have wrought and they should bear ultimate responsibility for doing so.

To effectuate this, this article introduces two new performance-based remedies to consumer law enforcement: (1) confusion prohibitions and (2) consequences prohibitions. These injunctive remedies order defendants to eliminate the confusion and ill consequences induced by defendants’ fraud. To comply with these prohibitions, defendants would be required to reduce the confusion and ill consequences they inflicted on their customers to prescribed levels within a prescribed time period. Defendants would bear the costs of demonstrating, through independent third-party audits, their compliance.


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