California Civil Code Section 2988.5 - Interpretation

In Civil Code section 2988.5, the Legislature struck a balance between the interests of innocent lessees and innocent assignees, creating liability on the part of assignees for a dealer's violations of the VLA only when the violation appears on the face of the lease and therefore should be apparent to the assignee. It would be odd, indeed, if the Legislature, having determined that the competing interests should be balanced in that manner, also established a kind of back door liability for assignees by means of Civil Code section 2986.10. It is far more likely that the Legislature simply recognized that lessees have "equities and defenses" against assignees aside from the remedies provided by the VLA, and adopted section 2986.10 to prevent any limitation of those equities and defenses. A lessee, for example, has the right to rescind the contract if the contract was induced by fraud, or if the vehicle is wholly defective. Section 2986.10 reasonably can be read as affirming that this right to rescind survives any assignment of the lease, as opposed to providing that lessees can rescind a lease agreement for a violation of the VLA notwithstanding that the assignee is unaware of the violation and notwithstanding the "face of the lease" limitation of Civil Code section 2988.5.