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2002-06-24
Concord, NH. New Hampshire Passes New Predatory Pricing Law

The Governor of New Hampshire signed a new law on May 18th, based on H.B. 1429, that addresses the issue of predatory pricing by big box retailers. Here is an overview prepared by the Bianco Professional Association for Sprawl-Busters: "In the summer of 2001, the Independent Oil Marketers Association (IOMA) of New Hampshire brought forth concerns about below cost pricing of goods and services by larger "big box" retailers. Understanding that passing "below cost" legislation, specifically for gasoline, would be politically difficult, IOMA - NH moved forward with legislation to establish general policies in New Hampshire prohibiting predatory pricing and unfair competition. New Hampshire's Consumer Protection Law, RSA 358-A, regulates business practices. Under RSA 358-A:2, Acts Unlawful, it states that "It shall be unlawful for any person to use any unfair method of competition or any unfair or deceptive act or practice in the conduct of any trade or commerce within this state. Such unfair method or competition or unfair or deceptive act or practice shall include, but it not limited to, the following :" (The law goes on to list 13 specific acts which are considered "unlawful." The attorney general's office is charged with the enforcement of these laws. However, under RSA 358-A:10, the right to private action is also preserved. Under the right of private action, any person, nonprofit corporation, or any other legal entity, has the right to bring an action for damages against another for any method, act or practice declared unlawful under the law. If a Court finds for the plaintiff in such action,the recovery awarded is in the amount of actual damages or $1,000, whichever is greater. However, if the Court finds that the method of competition was a willful or knowing violation of the act, a plaintiff may be awarded treble damages, the cost of the suit, and reasonable attorney's fees. House Bill 1429 originated from a study committee which reviewed the existing New Hampshire statutes on Consumer Protection.IOMA - NH participated in the study and requested a policy change under RSA 358-A, relative to the predatory pricing of goods and services. The prime sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Marshall "Lee" Quandt, agreed with the position of IOMA-NH, and added a 14th. section to the list of unlawful acts: "RSA 358-A: 2, XIV. Pricing of goods or services in a manner that tends to create or maintain a monopoly, or otherwise harm competition." This new section, under RSA 358-A:2, makes predatory pricing illegal. The new law takes effect on July 17, 2002. The new law establishes a policy for the businesses of New Hampshire based upon fairness, and encourages competition which will help keep prices low for consumers. Whether you are in the business of selling gasoline or prescription drugs, the new law prohibiting predatory pricing will serve as leverage to be used against the large retailers who attempt to crush small business.The prime Sponsor of HB 1429, Representative Marshall Quandt stated: " People usually think the consumer protection laws only protect individuals against big business. They also serve to protect small business against big business.New Hampshire's economy relies on the successes of our small businesses. To allow large corporations to bully small operators out of the market is contrary to New Hampshire's ideology and contrary to the goals of consumer protection. If small businesses fail, there will be no competition and consumers will pay more. The passage of HB 1429 should be a warning to large conglomerates - New Hampshire expects fair competition, not predatory pricing and that the consumer will be treated fairly."

What you can do: For further information on the new predatory pricing law in New Hampshire, contact Jodi Grimbilas at the Bianco Professional Association: jgrimbilas@biancopa.com










 
 
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