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Bill Protecting Against Unfair Trade Practices Passes House

House Bill 91, a bill that would give Delaware consumers and businesses the protection against unfair acts or practices in commerce, passed the House last week 39-0-2. The bill, sponsored by Representative David Bentz and Senator Trey Paradee, would empower the Attorney General to intervene against unfair business practices.

Deceptive business practices have been illegal under Delaware’s Consumer Fraud Act since that bill was passed in 1965. However, Delaware is one of only six states that do not also explicitly ban unfair or unconscionable practices. House Bill 91 corrects that by amending the Consumer Fraud Act to explicitly add unfair practices.

Price gouging would also be made illegal by House Bill 91. While price gouging was banned during the pandemic under the authority of Gov. Carney’s emergency powers, Delaware is one of the only states that lacks permanent authority to take action against price gouging in a state or national emergency.

Other unfair acts that could be covered by House Bill 91 include:

  • high pressure sales tactics
  • coercive conduct (e.g., conditioning return of a down payment on a consumer’s agreement to forfeit part of it)
  • unequal knowledge between consumers and merchants (e.g., defective merchandise, dangerous products or sales tactics, failure to provide copies of contracts)
  • hidden unaffordability (e.g., loans that direct consumers to pay a minimum amount set at a level such that the consumer will never pay off the loan)
  • unethical post-sale tactics (e.g., failure to honor refund policies or warranties, charging for goods or services that consumers didn’t request)
  • advertising adult products to children
House Bill 91 Sponsors Yes VotesNo Votes
Bentz Baumbach Brady Griffith K.Johnson Mitchell Morrison Osienski Wilson-AntonPassed 39-0-2. Baumbach, Bennett, Bentz, Bolden, Brady, Bush, Carson, Chukwuocha Cooke, Dorsey Walker, Griffith, Heffernan, K.Johnson, K.Williams, Kowalk, Lambert, Longhurst, Lynn, Matthews, Mitchell, Morrison, Osienski, S.Moore, Schwartzkopf, Briggs King, Collins, D.Short, Dukes, Gray, Hensley, M.Smith, Morris, Postles, Ramone, Shupe, Smyk, Spiegelman, Vanderwende, YearickMinor-Brown (Absent), Wilson-Anton (Absent)
Paradee Ennis Lockman Sturgeon Townsend Walsh Pettyjohn
Current Status: Senate Banking, Business & Insurance 5/13/21

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