1997 Regular Session
To: Judiciary A
By: Representative McInnis
House Bill 428
AN ACT TO REQUIRE THAT CONSUMER AGREEMENTS BE WRITTEN IN A CLEAR AND COHERENT MANNER, USING WORDS WITH COMMON AND EVERYDAY MEANINGS; TO REQUIRE THAT ALL LEGISLATION AND RULES OR REGULATIONS ADOPTED BY THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI BE IN LANGUAGE THAT IS SIMPLE AND CLEAR; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) Every written agreement entered into after July 1, 1997, for the lease of space to be occupied for residential purposes, or to which a consumer is a party and the money, property or service which is the subject of the transaction is primarily for personal, family or household purposes, must be:
(a) Written in a clear and coherent manner, using words with common and everyday meanings; and
(b) Appropriately divided and captioned by its various sections.
(2) Any creditor, seller or lessor who fails to comply with this section shall be liable to a consumer who is a party to a written agreement governed by this section in an amount equal to any actual damages sustained, plus a penalty of Fifty Dollars ($50.00). No action under this section may be initiated after both parties to the agreement have fully performed their obligation under such agreement, nor shall any creditor, seller or lessor who attempts in good faith to comply with this section be liable for such penalties. This section shall not be construed to prohibit the use of words or phrases or forms of agreement required by state or federal law, rule or regulation or by a governmental instrumentality.
(3) A violation of the provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not render any such agreement void or voidable, nor shall it constitute:
(a) A defense to any action or proceeding to enforce such agreement; or
(b) A defense to any action or proceeding for breach of such agreement.
(4) In addition to the penalties specified in subsection (2) of this section, whenever the Attorney General finds that there has been a violation of this section, he may bring any legal action necessary to enforce this section.
SECTION 2. All bills, resolutions, rules, regulations and executive orders adopted or promulgated by the State of Mississippi, or by any agency or political subdivision thereof, shall be written in language that is simple and clear.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.