Gov. Dan McKee, seated, signed legislation Tuesday strengthening the Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Pictured standing from left are Sen. Cynthia A. Coyne. Sen. Stephen R. Archambault, Attorney General Peter Neronha, House Deputy Speaker Charlene M. Lima and Speaker of the House K. Joseph Shekarchi.
Legislation strengthening Deceptive Trade Practices
Act signed into law
STATE HOUSE — A bill introduced by House Deputy Speaker Charlene M. Lima (D-Dist. 14, Cranston, Providence) and Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, North Providence, Johnston) that strengthens the Deceptive Trade Practices Act has been signed into law by Gov. Dan McKee.
The law (2021-S 0684A, 2021-H 6142A) restores the power of the attorney general to step in and enforce violations of the act. Previous court interpretations of the old legislation exempted almost all businesses and transactions from the reach of the statute, and tied the attorney general’s hands when it came to helping consumers.
“The National Consumer Law Center used to refer to Rhode Island as one of the ‘terrible twos’ because it was only Rhode Island and Michigan where you cannot sue for Deceptive Trade Practices,” said Deputy Speaker Lima, who has been working for years to get the legislation passed. “The former Act exempted businesses that were regulated by any state or federal agency, effectively taking away the power of the attorney general to enforce the provisions of the law. I’d like to thank Attorney General Neronha for working with me on this legislation.”
Under the provisions of the legislation, a violation will result in a civil penalty not to exceed $10,000 per violation.
“This law really allows the attorney general to stand in the shoes of consumers by limiting the exemptions that the Deceptive Trade Practices Act gives businesses that are regulated by other federal or state agencies,” said Senator Archambault. “It puts the attorney general in the forefront of being able to protect consumers.”
“An important part of the broad mission of the Attorney General’s Office is to advocate on behalf of Rhode Islanders when a business is treating them unfairly,” said Attorney General Peter F. Neronha. “Thanks to the recent updates to our state’s consumer protection law, my Office is better equipped to protect consumers against unfair business practices. This is a significant win for Rhode Islanders, and I am grateful to the primary sponsors of the legislation, Senator Stephen Archambault and Representative Charlene Lima, as well as the General Assembly and Governor Daniel McKee for their efforts in strengthening our state’s consumer protection law.”