North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act

The Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act protects North Carolina consumers and companies from a broad array of unscrupulous business practices.

Attorneys David Schiller and Mark Hinson represent both:

  • consumers who have lost money to deceptive companies and
  • companies that have been damaged by unethical and unfair business practices.

Below is the complete text of the Act.

North Carolina General Statutes, Chapter 75
Article 1. Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act

§ 75-1. Combinations in restraint of trade illegal
§ 75-1.1. Methods of competition, acts and practices regulated; legislative policy
§ 75-2. Any restraint in violation of common law included
§ 75-2.1. Monopolizing and attempting to monopolize prohibited
§ 75-3. Repealed
§ 75-4. Contracts to be in writing
§§ 75-5 to 75-7. Repealed
§ 75-8. Continuous violations separate offenses
§ 75-9. Duty of Attorney General to investigate
§ 75-10. Power to compel examination
§ 75-11. Person examined exempt from prosecution
§ 75-12. Refusal to furnish information; false swearing
§ 75-13. Criminal prosecution; district attorneys to assist; expenses
§ 75-14. Action to obtain mandatory order
§ 75-15. Actions prosecuted by Attorney General
§ 75-15.1. Restoration of property and cancellation of contract
§ 75-15.2. Civil penalty
§ 75-16. Civil action by person injured; treble damages
§ 75-16.1. Attorney fee
§ 75-16.2. Limitation of actions

[Sections 75-17 through 75-118 are omitted to avoid confusion with employment-focused statutes]

§ 75-1. Combinations in restraint of trade illegal

Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce in the State of North Carolina is hereby declared to be illegal. Every person or corporation who shall make any such contract expressly or shall knowingly be a party thereto by implication, or who shall engage in any such combination or conspiracy shall be guilty of a Class H felony.

§ 75-1.1. Methods of competition, acts and practices regulated; legislative policy

(a) Unfair methods of competition in or affecting commerce, and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce, are declared unlawful.

(b) For purposes of this section, “commerce” includes all business activities, however denominated, but does not include professional services rendered by a member of a learned profession.

(c) Nothing in this section shall apply to acts done by the publisher, owner, agent, or employee of a newspaper, periodical or radio or television station, or other advertising medium in the publication or dissemination of an advertisement, when the owner, agent or employee did not have knowledge of the false, misleading or deceptive character of the advertisement and when the newspaper, periodical or radio or television station, or other advertising medium did not have a direct financial interest in the sale or distribution of the advertised product or service.

(d) Any party claiming to be exempt from the provisions of this section shall have the burden of proof with respect to such claim.

§ 75-2. Any restraint in violation of common law included

Any act, contract, combination in the form of trust, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce which violates the principles of the common law is hereby declared to be in violation of G.S. 75-1.

§ 75-2.1. Monopolizing and attempting to monopolize prohibited

It is unlawful for any person to monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons to monopolize, any part of trade or commerce in the State of North Carolina.

§ 75-3. Repealed by Laws 1961, c. 1153

§ 75-4. Contracts to be in writing

No contract or agreement hereafter made, limiting the rights of any person to do business anywhere in the State of North Carolina shall be enforceable unless such agreement is in writing duly signed by the party who agrees not to enter into any such business within such territory: Provided, nothing herein shall be construed to legalize any contract or agreement not to enter into business in the State of North Carolina, or at any point in the State of North Carolina, which contract is now illegal, or which contract is made illegal by any other section of this Chapter.

§§ 75-5 to 75-7. Repealed by Laws 1995, c. 550, § 2, eff. Oct. 1, 1996

§ 75-8. Continuous violations separate offenses

Where the things prohibited in this Chapter are continuous, then in such event, after the first violation of any of the provisions hereof, each week that the violation of such provision shall continue shall be a separate offense.

§ 75-9. Duty of Attorney General to investigate

The Attorney General of the State of North Carolina shall have power, and it shall be his duty, to investigate, from time to time, the affairs of all corporations or persons doing business in this State, which are or may be embraced within the meaning of the statutes of this State defining and denouncing trusts and combinations against trade and commerce, or which he shall be of opinion are so embraced, and all other corporations or persons in North Carolina doing business in violation of law; and all other corporations of every character engaged in this State in the business of transporting property or passengers, or transmitting messages, and all other public service corporations of any kind or nature whatever which are doing business in the State for hire. Such investigation shall be with a view of ascertaining whether the law or any rule of the Utilities Commission or Commission of Banks is being or has been violated by any such corporation, officers or agents or employees thereof, and if so, in what respect, with the purpose of acquiring such information as may be necessary to enable him to prosecute any such corporation, its agents, officers and employees for crime, or prosecute civil actions against them if he discovers they are liable and should be prosecuted.

§ 75-10. Power to compel examination

In performing the duty required in G.S. 75-9, the Attorney General shall have power, at any and all times, to require the officers, agents or employees of any such corporation or business, and all other persons having knowledge with respect to the matters and affairs of such corporations or businesses, to submit themselves to examination by him, and produce for his inspection any of the books and papers of any such corporations or businesses, or which are in any way connected with the business thereof; and the Attorney General is hereby given the right to administer oath to any person whom he may desire to examine. He shall also, if it may become necessary, have a right to apply to any justice or judge of the appellate or superior court divisions, after five days’ notice of such application, for an order on any such person or corporation he may desire to examine to appear and subject himself or itself to such examination, and disobedience of such order shall constitute contempt, and shall be punishable as in other cases of disobedience of a proper order of such judge.

§ 75-11. Person examined exempt from prosecution

No natural person examined, as provided in G.S. 75-10, shall be subject to indictment, criminal prosecution, criminal punishment or criminal penalty by reason of or on account of anything disclosed by him upon examination, and full immunity from criminal prosecution and criminal punishment by reason of or on account of anything so disclosed is hereby extended to all natural persons so examined. The immunity herein granted shall not apply to civil actions instituted pursuant to this Chapter.

§ 75-12. Refusal to furnish information; false swearing

Any corporation or person unlawfully refusing or willfully neglecting to furnish the information required by this Chapter, when it is demanded as herein provided, shall be guilty of a Class 3 misdemeanor and only fined not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000): Provided, that if any corporation or person shall in writing notify the Attorney General that it objects to the time or place designated by him for the examination or inspection provided for in this Chapter, it shall be his duty to apply to a justice or judge of the appellate or superior court division, who shall fix an appropriate time and place for such examination or inspection, and such corporation or person shall, in such event, be guilty under this section only in the event of its failure, refusal or neglect to appear at the time and place so fixed by the judge and furnish the information required by this Chapter. False swearing by any person examined under the provisions of this Chapter is a Class I felony.

§ 75-13. Criminal prosecution; district attorneys to assist; expenses

The Attorney General in carrying out the provisions of this Chapter shall have a right to send bills of indictment before any grand jury in any county in which it is alleged this Chapter has been violated or in any adjoining county, and may take charge of and prosecute all cases coming within the purview of this Chapter, and shall have the power to call to his assistance in the performance of any of these duties of his office which he may assign to them any of the district attorneys in the State, who shall, upon being required to do so by the Attorney General, send bills of indictment and assist him in the performance of the duties of his office.

§ 75-14. Action to obtain mandatory order

If it shall become necessary to do so, the Attorney General may prosecute civil actions in the name of the State on relation of the Attorney General to obtain a mandatory order, including (but not limited to) permanent or temporary injunctions and temporary restraining orders, to carry out the provisions of this Chapter, and the venue shall be in any county as selected by the Attorney General.

§ 75-15. Actions prosecuted by Attorney General

It shall be the duty of the Attorney General, upon his ascertaining that the laws have been violated by any trust or public service corporation, so as to render it liable to prosecution in a civil action, to prosecute such action in the name of the State, or any officer or department thereof, as provided by law, or in the name of the State on relation of the Attorney General, and to prosecute all officers or agents or employees of such corporations, whenever in his opinion the interests of the public require it.

§ 75-15.1. Restoration of property and cancellation of contract

In any suit instituted by the Attorney General to enjoin a practice alleged to violate G.S. 75-1.1, the presiding judge may, upon a final determination of the cause, order the restoration of any moneys or property and the cancellation of any contract obtained by any defendant as a result of such violation.

§ 75-15.2. Civil penalty

In any suit instituted by the Attorney General, in which the defendant is found to have violated G.S. 75-1.1 and the acts or practices which constituted the violation were, when committed, knowingly violative of a statute, the court may, in its discretion, impose a civil penalty against the defendant of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each violation. In any action brought by the Attorney General pursuant to this Chapter in which it is shown that an action or practice when committed was specifically prohibited by a court order, the Court may, in its discretion, impose a civil penalty of up to five thousand dollars ($5,000) for each violation. Civil penalties may be imposed in a new action or by motion in an earlier action, whether or not such earlier action has been concluded. In determining the amount of the civil penalty, the court shall consider all relevant circumstances, including, but not limited to, the extent of the harm caused by the conduct constituting a violation, the nature and persistence of such conduct, the length of time over which the conduct occurred, the assets, liabilities, and net worth of the person, whether corporate or individual, and any corrective action taken by the defendant. The clear proceeds of penalties so assessed shall be remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund in accordance with G.S. 115C-457.2.

§ 75-16. Civil action by person injured; treble damages

If any person shall be injured or the business of any person, firm or corporation shall be broken up, destroyed or injured by reason of any act or thing done by any other person, firm or corporation in violation of the provisions of this Chapter, such person, firm or corporation so injured shall have a right of action on account of such injury done, and if damages are assessed in such case judgment shall be rendered in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendant for treble the amount fixed by the verdict.

§ 75-16.1. Attorney fee

In any suit instituted by a person who alleges that the defendant violated G.S. 75-1.1, the presiding judge may, in his discretion, allow a reasonable attorney fee to the duly licensed attorney representing the prevailing party, such attorney fee to be taxed as a part of the court costs and payable by the losing party, upon a finding by the presiding judge that:

(1) The party charged with the violation has willfully engaged in the act or practice, and there was an unwarranted refusal by such party to fully resolve the matter which constitutes the basis of such suit; or

(2) The party instituting the action knew, or should have known, the action was frivolous and malicious.

§ 75-16.2. Limitation of actions

Any civil action brought under this Chapter to enforce the provisions thereof shall be barred unless commenced within four years after the cause of action accrues.

When any civil or criminal proceeding shall be commenced by the Attorney General or by any of the district attorneys of the State to prevent, restrain or punish a violation of Chapter 75, the running of the period of limitation with respect to every private right of action arising under Chapter 75 and based in whole or in part on any matter complained of in said proceeding shall be suspended during the pendency thereof and for one year thereafter; provided that when the running of the period of limitation with respect to a cause of action arising under Chapter 75 shall be suspended hereunder, any action to enforce such cause of action shall be barred unless commenced either within the period of suspension or within four years after the cause of action accrued, whichever is later.