State of Illinois
2011 and 2012


Introduced 2/1/2012, by Sen. Michael Noland


New Act

    Creates the Consumer Contract Plain Language Act. Requires consumer contracts to be written in a simple, clear, understandable, and easily readable manner. Establishes the requirements necessary for compliance with the Act. Authorizes the Attorney General to enforce the Act. Provides remedies, including statutory damages. Effective immediately.

LRB097 19258 JLS 64502 b






SB3200LRB097 19258 JLS 64502 b

1    AN ACT concerning consumer contract protection in
3    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
4represented in the General Assembly:
5    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the
6Consumer Contract Plain Language Act.
7    Section 5. Definitions. As used in this Act:
8    "Consumer" means an individual who borrows, buys, or leases
9services or products under a consumer contract.
10    "Consumer contract" or "contract" means a written
11agreement between a consumer and a party, acting in the usual
12course of business, for products or services made or performed
13for primarily personal, family, or household purposes. A
14"consumer contract" includes, but is not limited to, standard
15form contracts, consumer agreements, forms, or terms.
16    "Covered entity" means a person who utilizes consumer
17contracts in the usual course of business.
18    "Transaction" means a business transaction that occurs
19between a consumer and a covered entity for the exchange of
20products or services through the use of a consumer contract.
21    Section 10. Scope. This Act applies to all consumer



SB3200- 2 -LRB097 19258 JLS 64502 b

1    Section 15. Plain language. A contract entered into on or
2after the effective date of this Act shall be written in a
3simple, clear, understandable, and easily readable manner. In
4determining whether a contract as a whole has been written in a
5simple, clear, understandable, and easily readable manner, a
6court, the Attorney General, or proper regulatory agency, shall
7apply the provisions of Section 20.
8    Section 20. Requirements for contracts.
9    (a) For a contract to be simple, clear, understandable, and
10easily readable, it must be written in plain language. A
11contract is written in plain language if:
12        (1) it is written in a clear and coherent manner using
13    words with common and everyday meanings; use of technical
14    terms or words of art is not, however, in and of itself a
15    violation of this Act;
16        (2) it is appropriately divided and captioned by its
17    various sections;
18        (3) it uses type of readable size and no less than
19    8-point font;
20        (4) it uses layout and spacing that separate the
21    paragraphs and sections of the contract from each other and
22    from the borders of the paper or medium upon which it is
23    displayed;
24        (5) it uses simple and active verb forms;



SB3200- 3 -LRB097 19258 JLS 64502 b

1        (6) it uses ink that contrasts with the paper or medium
2    upon which it is displayed;
3        (7) it does not contain a provision that permits the
4    unilateral modification of the contract by the covered
5    entity to the disadvantage of the consumer without explicit
6    consumer consent after the execution of the contract;
7        (8) it uses a table of contents or alphabetical index
8    and definitional glossary for all contracts with more than
9    2,000 words; and
10        (9) conditions and exceptions to the main promise of
11    the contract are given prominence equal to that given to
12    the main promise and are in at least 10-point bold type.
13    (b) A contract may not be simple, clear, understandable, or
14easily readable if it contains one or more the following:
15        (1) cross references that are confusing;
16        (2) references to terms not included in the consumer
17    contract that are necessary to understand its material
18    provisions;
19        (3) sentences that are of greater length than
20    necessary;
21        (4) sentences that contain double negatives and
22    exceptions to exceptions;
23        (5) sentences and sections that are in a confusing or
24    illogical order;
25        (6) the use of words with obsolete meanings or words
26    that differ in their legal meaning from their common,



SB3200- 4 -LRB097 19258 JLS 64502 b

1    ordinary meaning; and
2        (7) frequent use of Old English and Middle English
3    words and Latin and French phrases.
4    Section 25. Content of contracts. A covered entity shall
5include a clear and conspicuous description of the terms of the
6contract, including the total cost of all fees and other
7charges or waiver of rights in connection with the transaction,
8in English and in the language in which the transaction was
10    Section 30. Enforcement. The Illinois Attorney General may
11bring an action to enforce this Act and to obtain injunctive
12relief in any court of competent jurisdiction not later than 5
13years after the date of the violation.
14    Section 35. Safe harbor. There shall be no liability under
15Section 40 if any of the following occurs:
16        (1) the consumer wrote the contract or the part of it
17    that violates this Act; or
18        (2) the creditor, seller, or lessor made a good faith
19    and reasonable effort to comply with this Act.
20    Section 40. Penalties. A person who knowingly violates the
21requirements of Section 20 shall be liable to the consumer for
22the following:



SB3200- 5 -LRB097 19258 JLS 64502 b

1        (1) compensation in an amount equal to the value of any
2    actual loss caused by the violation of this Act;
3        (2) statutory damages of the lesser of $1000 or the
4    total amount of the contract;
5        (3) court costs;
6        (4) reasonable attorney's fees; and
7        (5) any equitable and other relief ordered by the
8    court.
9    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
10becoming law.