California Landmark Cases Addressing Unlawful Business Practice
"By proscribing 'any unlawful' business practice, 'Business and Professions Code section 17200 "borrows" violations of other laws and treats them as unlawful practices' that the unfair competition law (UCL) makes independently actionable." (Cel-Tech Communications, Inc. v. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 163, 180 (Cel-Tech).)
"An unlawful business practice under Business and Professions Code section 17200 is ' "an act or practice, committed pursuant to business activity, that is at the same time forbidden by law. " ' " (Progressive West Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (2005) 135 Cal.App.4th 263, 287.)
" 'Virtually any law--federal, state or local--can serve as a predicate for an action under Business and Professions Code section 17200. ' " (Ticconi v. Blue Shield of California Life & Health Ins. Co. (2008) 160 Cal.App.4th 528, 539.)
" ' "The Consumers Legal Remedies Act (CLRA), enacted in 1970, 'established a nonexclusive statutory remedy for "unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or which results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer. ..." ' "
"The self-declared purposes of the act are 'to protect consumers against unfair and deceptive business practices and to provide efficient and economical procedures to secure such protection.' " ' " (Bardin v. DaimlerChrysler Corp. (2006) 136 Cal.App.4th 1255, 1275.)
The unfair competition law prohibits "any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice." (Bus. & Prof. Code, 17200.) The broad scope of the unfair competition law embraces " 'anything that can properly be called a business practice and that at the same time is forbidden by law.' " ( Barquis v. Merchants Collection Assn. (1972) 7 Cal.3d 94, 113, 101 Cal. Rptr. 745, 496 P.2d 817, applying former Civ. Code, 3369; accord, Cel-Tech Communications, Inc. v. Los Angeles Cellular Telephone Co. (1999) 20 Cal.4th 163, 180, 973 P.2d 527.)
The term "business practice" connotes a commercial arena. Conduct that is primarily noncommercial with only an incidental connection to a commercial arena cannot properly be called a business practice. Thus, the California Supreme Court in Blank v. Kirwan (1985) 39 Cal.3d 311 at page 329 held that a conspiracy to influence government action to legalize poker clubs could not properly be called a business practice under the unfair competition law.