As a foreign attorney representing a party whose business dispute is governed by Massachusetts law, you might want to learn about the rights available under the consumer protection statute in Massachusetts, M.G.L. c. 93A. Massachusetts General Laws c. 93A, § 2 (a) makes unlawful any “[u]nfair or deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any trade or commerce.” This prohibition is “extended to those engaged in trade or commerce in business transactions with others similarly engaged” by M.G.L. c. 93A, § 11.
The statute itself does not define “unfair” or “deceptive” or what acts or practices are unlawful. Rather, courts determine what conduct falls within this statute. A non-exhaustive list of such prohibitive conduct includes, for instance, commercial extortion, breaching the covenant of good faith and fair dealing implicit in every contract, knowingly violating contractual obligations, or breaching a warranty.
To sue another business under § 11 of the consumer protection statute, the plaintiff must prove the following:
1. That they are a “business,” meaning “engaged in trade or commerce”;
2. That the defendant engaged in an “unfair method of competition” or the defendant’s actions were “unfair” or “deceptive”;
3. That these actions occurred primarily or substantially within Massachusetts; and
4. The defendant’s actions caused “any loss of money or property, real or personal” or, to warrant injunctive relief, “may have the effect of causing such loss of money or property.”
There are two primary benefits of the consumer protection statute. First, if the plaintiff proves their 93A claim, they “shall” “be awarded reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs incurred.” This right to recover attorneys’ fees and costs is guaranteed “irrespective of the amount in controversy” and other relief provided in § 11. Second, if the plaintiff proves their 93A claim and further proves that the defendant’s conduct was “willful,” then the plaintiff can also recover multiple damages under § 11.