Chapter 04 - Consumer Protection
Chapter 04 - Consumer Protection
There is created within the Department of Legal Affairs, a Bureau of Consumer Protection. The head of this Bureau is the Director, who has been admitted to practice law before the High Court. The Director is responsible to the Attorney General and shall devote his efforts to en-forcing this chapter.
(a) The Director shall:
(1) coordinate the Consumer Protection activities of the Territory;
(2) provide public education and awareness programs on consumer rights and remedies;
(3) investigate consumer complaints filed with the Department of Legal Affairs;
(4) prosecute criminal acts involving consumers;
(5) initiate appropriate civil actions to protect the rights of the consuming public;
(6) perform all other acts necessary to enforce this chapter;
(7) file an annual report with the Legislature each December 1st outlining the Bureau’s workload, projects, and accomplishments.
(b) The Director may:
(1) issue subpoenas to an individual, Director, officer, employee, or agent of a business organization within the Territory;
(2) appoint and Commission one or more investigators subject to approval by the Attorney General. Persons appointed and commissioned under this paragraph have the powers and authority of a police officer; and
(3) advise the Governor and the Legislature on Consumer Protection legislation or administrative rules.
(c) The words “appropriate civil actions” in this section includes consumer cases filed in court on behalf of individual consumers as well as groups or classes of consumers. The Directors shall publish regulations on representations of clients to avoid competition with private attorneys.
In lieu of instituting or continuing an investigation or civil action, the Director may accept written assurance of voluntary compliance from the persons suspected of violation. The Director may obtain the agreement of the affected consumers where possible. The fact that a person has entered into an assurance of voluntary compliance may not be considered an admission of violation, nor may the written assurance constitute prima facie evidence of a violation. The assurance may include a stipulation for reimbursement to some or all consumers who have been damaged by an alleged unlawful act or practice and payment of costs of investigation. An assurance of voluntary compliance may become public record. A consumer does not have to accept restitution under the stipulation, but his stipulated agreement to the assurance or his acceptance and full performance of restitution bars recovery of other damages in an action on account of the same acts or practices by him against the person or persons making restitution.
(a) A person who furnishes commodities or services to consumers for which a license is required from a department or a regulatory agency or a Board or Commission, without a license, commits a civil infraction and is subject to the penalty provided in subsection (b) of this section.
(b) A person who commits a civil infraction described in subsection (a) shall be fined not less than $500 nor more than $2,500 for each unlawful act or practice, which fine is to be collected in a civil suit initiated by the Bureau of Consumer Protection.
(c) A contract for the furnishing of commodities by unlicensed persons is void. A person may recover the price or reasonable value of commodities furnished under a void contract.
In a civil action initiated by the Director to collect civil penalties or to enjoin an unlawful act or practice, the court may grant restitution to a person who sustained damages as a result of the unlawful act and practice if the aggrieved consumer has filed a complaint with the Office of Consumer Protection prior to the initiation of the action. A person in whose favor restitution is ordered may not choose to accept restitution, but his acceptance and full performance of restitution bars recovery by him of other damages in a separate action for the same act or practice, against the person making restitution.
Unless otherwise expressly provided, the remedies or penalties provided by this chapter are cumulative to each other and to the remedies or penalties available under all other laws of the Territory.