United States: Association Of California Insurance Companies v. Jones

In Association of California Insurance Companies v. Jones, 2 Cal. 5th 376 (January 23, 2017), the California Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeal's judgment invalidating the Insurance Commissioner's 2011 regulation covering replacement cost estimates for homeowners insurance ("Regulation"). The Court determined the Unfair Insurance Practices Act (Section 790.10 of the Insurance Code) ("UIPA" or "Act") supports the Commissioner's authority to promulgate the challenged regulation.

Legislators discovered that California residents, whose homes had been damaged in the 1991 Oakland Hills fire and 2003 Southern California wildfires, had insufficient insurance coverage to rebuild their homes. Following these fires, the Legislature attempted to address the discrepancy between the homeowners' expectations of coverage and the actual coverage provided under their policies, but – as a result of the large wildfires in Southern California in 2007 and 2008 – realized the "underinsurance problem" persisted. Responding to complaints of underinsurance, the Department of Insurance's market conduct division conducted an investigation of the four largest insurers (who accounted for approximately half the market covering these losses), which revealed that, for a majority of the policies examined, the "coverage limits matched what was indicated by the insurer's own coverage calculator," but "the recommended coverage nonetheless understated what was actually needed to rebuild the insured's home over 80 percent of the time." Even 57 percent of policies that included extended replacement cost coverage were still underinsured. Further:

A United Policyholders survey of victims who lost their homes in the 2007 wildfires similarly showed that only 26 percent had sufficient coverage to repair, replace, or rebuild their homes. These victims were underinsured by an average of $ 240,000. Once again, in a significant number of cases, the policyholder had relied on the estimate provided by the insurer's replacement cost estimate tool in purchasing such coverage.

As guaranteed replacement coverage is no longer "the norm" and only a limited number of homeowners now qualify for such coverage, the Commissioner focused on improving the accuracy of the replacement cost estimates:

Although estimates for labor, building supply costs, and other costs of rebuilding a home may or may not turn out to be accurate, the Commissioner found that even the most careful estimate would be deficient and misleading if the estimate failed to consider the complete range of tasks necessary to repair or rebuild the home, such as the costs of replacing the foundation, debris removal and demolition expenses, and overhead and profit, as well as engineering reports and architectural plans. The Commissioner also concluded that estimates would be more complete and accurate—and purchasers would be better informed about replacement cost coverage—if such estimates reflected the home's size, materials, square footage, wall heights, slope, and location; the type of frame, roof, and siding; the number of stories; and its age.

To address these concerns, the Commissioner proposed new regulations and amendments to existing regulations consistent with the procedures specified in the Administrative Procedure Act (Gov. Code, § 11340 et seq.). According to the Commissioner's initial statement of reasons, the proposed regulation standardized the components of a replacement cost estimate "to create a more consistent, comprehensive and accurate replacement cost calculation" and clarified that estimates "not comporting with the applicable provision of the regulation will constitute making a statement with respect to the business of insurance which is misleading and which by the exercise of reasonable care should be known to be misleading, pursuant to Insurance Code section 790.03." (Dept. of Insurance, Initial Statement of Reasons, Standards and Training for Estimating Replacement Value on Homeowners' Insurance (Apr. 2, 2010) pp. 1, 20.) The Commissioner's initial statement of reasons also described the specific purpose and need for the regulations, the alternatives considered by the Commissioner, and the prenotice discussions held at the Department of Insurance's office. (See Gov. Code, §§ 11346.2, subd. (b), 11346.3, 11346.45, subd. (a).) The Commissioner's notice of proposed action solicited public comment, announced the time and date for a public hearing, and analyzed the potential economic impact of the regulations. (Gov. Code, §§ 11346.3, 11346.4, 11346.5.)

In response to public comments submitted in writing and at the public hearing, the Commissioner modified the proposed regulations and issued a "final statement of reasons" on November 17, 2010. (Gov. Code, § 11346.9.) The Commissioner also identified the specific statutes authorizing adoption of the regulations and listed the statutory provisions "being implemented, interpreted, or made specific" by each section of the regulations. (Gov. Code, § 11346.2, subd. (a)(2).) On December 29, 2010, the Office of Administrative Law approved the regulations. The regulations became effective on June 27, 2011.

The regulation "does not require an insurer to set or recommend a policy limit or to provide an estimate of the cost to rebuild or replace a home," "ut if the insurer does choose to opine on replacement costs, the Regulation specifies how that estimate is to be calculated and communicated," by barring an insurer from communicating an estimate unless the estimate complies with subdivisions (a) through (e) of the Regulation (requiring that the cost to rebuild or repair must be based on the single property being evaluated – not the cost to build multiple or tract dwellings; the estimate shall not include the resale value of the land, any outstanding loan balance, or a deduction for physical depreciation; and the insurer must "take reasonable steps" to verify the estimate methods are updated at least annually).

The Legislature enacted the Unfair Insurance Practices Act (Insurance Code section 790, et seq.) in 1959 to regulate insurance trade practices by defining, or providing for the determination of, all practices in the State "which constitute unfair methods of competition or unfair or deceptive acts or practices and by prohibiting the trade practices so defined or determined." The Act defined "various unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices" to include "making or disseminating or causing to be made or disseminated [ . . . ] any statement containing any assertion, representation, or statement [ . . . ] which is untrue, deceptive, or misleading, and which is known, or which by the exercise of reasonable care should be known, to be untrue, deceptive, or misleading." The Act also empowers the Commissioner (1) to investigate insurance companies to determine if the company is or has committed any such unfair acts and "to bring an administrative action against, recover damages from, and enjoin any person" who is or has been engaging in any such unfair competition; and (2) to "issue an order to show cause and initiate an administrative proceeding to determine whether the challenged conduct [which is not expressly defined in the Act] is unfair or deceptive" and, if so, to "serve a written report so declaring on the insurer." Finally, the Act grants the Commissioner rulemaking power: "The commissioner shall, from time to time as conditions warrant, after notice and public hearing, promulgate reasonable rules and regulations, and amendments and additions thereto, as are necessary to administer this article."

A few weeks before the Regulation was to become effective, plaintiffs Association of California Insurance Companies and the Personal Insurance Federation of California (collectively, the Association) filed a complaint for declaratory relief. The action challenged the validity of the Regulation on the ground (1) that the Regulation exceeded the Commissioner's authority by defining a new unfair or deceptive insurance practice; (2) that the Regulation improperly restricted the underwriting of insurance, which the Commissioner lacked authority to regulate; and (3) that the Regulation violated insurers' rights to free speech under the state and federal Constitutions. The parties agreed that the case could be tried based on the rulemaking file, written briefs, and oral argument, without the need for oral testimony.

The trial court invalidated the Regulation on the first ground—i.e., "that the Commissioner exceeded his authority by attempting to define additional acts or practices by regulation rather than by the procedure set out in section 790.06." The trial court reasoned that an estimate of replacement costs is "inherently inaccurate" but could not be deemed misleading, unless one were to claim or imply that the estimate was accurate. Because the Regulation thus expanded the scope of misleading statements beyond that defined in section 790.03, subdivision (b), upholding the Regulation would "obviate the need" to use the mechanism in section 790.06 to determine that conduct not defined by the UIPA was unfair or deceptive. Having invalidated the Regulation, the trial court found it unnecessary to consider the Association's remaining challenges.

The Court of Appeal affirmed. The appellate court found it significant that the Legislature had specifically defined the advertising of insurance that the insurer does not sell as "an unfair and deceptive act or practice" (§ 790.036, subd. (a)) but had failed to so define incomplete replacement cost estimates. Invoking the interpretive canon expressio unius est exclusio alterius, the court inferred that the omission "was a deliberate choice" by the Legislature and that "the Commissioner did not have authority to add content and format requirements for replacement cost estimates in homeowner insurance to the list of practices set forth in section 790.03 under the guise of deeming nonconforming estimates misleading under section 790.03, subdivision (b)."

The Court of Appeal believed also that the Commissioner's interpretation of his rulemaking authority would render it needlessly duplicative of his power to bring an enforcement action under section 790.05, on the one hand, or to institute an administrative proceeding under section 790.06 to determine whether undefined conduct was unfair or deceptive, on the other. As to the first, "there would be no need for the Regulation because, as the Commissioner points out, he would already have had the means in section 790.05 to assess penalties and issue a cease and desist order against a licensee the Commissioner believed had given a lowball or incomplete estimate . . . ." As to the second, the Commissioner "would never have to resort to the procedures in section 790.06 regarding practices not 'defined' in section 790.03 because the Commissioner could always argue that conduct not meeting standards in a regulation promulgated under the cover of the Commissioner's power to administer under section 790.10 would be 'misleading.'"

The Court began its analysis: "The Regulation, like any agency action, comes to the court with a presumption of validity." While the Court exercises independent judgment on the question of law (whether the Regulation falls outside the Commissioner's authority), the Court "accord[s] great weight and respect" to the agency's construction. How "much" weight depends on context, including both "factors relating to the agency's technical knowledge and expertise" and "factors relating to the care with which the interpretation was promulgated."

The Commissioner has only so much rulemaking power as is granted by statute; to be valid, a regulation must be within that authority conferred by the Legislature – authority which the Court noted "appears to be quite broad."

The Court previously considered a similarly expansive grant of authority to the director of the Department of Motor Vehicles in Ford Dealers Association v. Department of Motor Vehicles, 32 Cal. 3d 347 (1982). The Court reversed the trial court's ruling that had invalidated various regulations, "explain[ing] that the DMV, which was authorized 'to 'fill up the details' of the statutory scheme,' had the statutory authority to promulgate a regulation 'barring a specific class of misleading statements.'" Id. at 362-363. While noting that the Commissioner's grant of authority "is written in terms of what is necessary to administer the authorizing statute" and not in terms of what is necessary to carry it out [as in Ford] or implement it," the Court determined that "such slight difference in wording [does not] evidence any substantial distinction in the power of the Legislature conveyed." Concluding, "[t]o administer is to carry out or direct, and in the process to implement." Similarly, in Moore v. California State Board of Accountancy, 2 Cal. 4th 999, 1013 (1992), "in construing the [State Board of Accountancy's] authority to administer the general prohibition on misleading titles and designations, [the Court] found it 'apparent' that the board had been delegated the power to determine whether a particular title of designation not explicitly identified in the statute was nonetheless likely to confuse or mislead the public." The Court found: "The Commissioner's authority to administer the UIPA thus includes the power to promulgate a rule applying to a specific kind of statement prohibited under section 790.03, subdivision (b)."

The Court addressed the Association's argument that "the Legislature reserved to itself the power to define unfair or deceptive acts (as, for example, in § 790.03) and to set forth a procedure by which conduct not statutorily defined as unfair or deceptive could be determined (using the order to show cause procedure in § 790.06) to be so." According to the Association, the Regulation "is either unnecessary (in that the subject of the Regulation has already been defined as unfair in § 790.03), or it represents an unlawful expansion of the Commissioner's power by purporting to reach conduct not otherwise defined as unfair or deceptive without complying with the order to show cause procedure in section 790.06."

The dichotomy posited by the Association is incomplete. Yes, the Legislature "defined" untrue, deceptive, or misleading statements with respect to the business of insurance as an unfair method of competition or an unfair and deceptive act or practice in section 790.03, subdivision (b). But it would be wrong to conclude that the Commissioner was thereby deprived of authority to "interpret, or make specific" those defined methods, acts, or practices by rule or regulation. (Gov. Code, § 11342.600.) Where, as here, the Legislature uses open-ended language that implicates policy choices of the sort the agency is empowered to make, a court may find the Legislature delegated the task of interpreting or elaborating on the statutory text to the administrative agency. [Cite]

In this instance, the Commissioner undertook an investigation into the widespread problem of underinsurance and, in particular, the disconnect between a homeowner's expectation and the actual scope of insurance coverage purchased. Based on that investigation, he determined that an incomplete replacement cost estimate—i.e., an estimate that fails to account for all of the costs necessary to rebuild the structure—qualifies as "a specific kind of misleading statement," and that regulation of any misleading statement "is authorized by the broad statutory prohibition against false and misleading statements" in section 790.03, subdivision (b). [Cite.] The Commissioner's determination complied with relevant procedures in the Insurance Code and the Administrative Procedure Act, which require an initial statement of reasons from the agency, a request for public comment, a public hearing, an assessment of alternatives to and the economic impact of the Regulation, and a final statement of reasons and written responses to public input. Even if the statutory prohibition on misleading statements is (as the Association contends) self-executing, an administrative agency nonetheless has authority to promulgate rules and regulations as reasonably necessary to administer it. [Citations]

A survey of the agency's legal authority and role readily shows why. As the Association concedes, the Commissioner could certainly have brought an enforcement action against an insurer's use of misleading replacement cost estimates under section 790.05, which permits an agency to address unfair practices defined in section 790.03 on a case-by-case basis even in the absence of a specific regulatory rule. What this enforcement power does not imply is that the Commissioner was disabled from addressing the problem posed by such estimates through regulation. A key part of the expertise an agency brings to bear on its administrative function is its assessment of the trade-offs inherent in deciding whether to enforce a statutory mandate by way of an adjudication against a regulated entity or through a generalized rule. [Citations] Adjudication may prove desirable when a problem is unforeseeable, when it is so specialized or idiosyncratic as not to be susceptible to a general rule, or when the agency lacks the experience to justify announcement of a general rule. [Citations] Rulemaking, on the other hand, offers the agency an opportunity to research and develop all relevant arguments from the affected stakeholders and address a problem in a comprehensive way that treats regulated entities in a like manner. [Citations]

Where an agency has been granted both the power to adjudicate and to promulgate rules, we generally defer to the agency's choice of how to proceed. [ . . . ] An agency's choice regarding the use of rulemaking or adjudication implicates the expertise and accountability rationales that cut in favor of deference to the agency, and the Association does not contend that any statute expressly limited the Commissioner's ability to choose between rulemaking and adjudication. We therefore defer to the Commissioner's decision to address the problem of underinsurance by rulemaking.

Finding otherwise would not only cut against the grain of our previous decisions and the importance they ascribe to the agency's expertise in deciding how it makes policy, but would also eviscerate section 790.10. It is the agency's prerogative to promulgate reasonable rules and regulations "as are necessary to administer" the UIPA (§ 790.10)—not merely to do so where it cannot otherwise address offending conduct through enforcement actions.

The Court noted that the Commissioner's authority "to determine what undefined conduct qualifies as unfair or deceptive is irrelevant to the question whether the Commissioner had the authority to regulate incomplete replacement cost estimates as misleading statements." The Association "effectively concede[d]" that the Regulation does not pertain to undefined conduct.

Finally, the Court rejected the Association's argument that the Commissioner's regulatory authority must be narrowly construed, which relied on "a snippet of an enrolled bill report prepared by the Department of Finance" which estimated the fiscal impact of Section 790.10 as a one-time hearing cost of $1,500. The Court was unpersuaded by this estimate, prepared by a Department "that has no role in administering or enforcing the UIPA" and found the report to be "flatly inconsistent with the statutory text," which does not contain a "'one time' limitation." Further, the Court found that a committee analysis of a bill is more persuasive that an enrolled bill report, and the analyses undermined the Association's reading. "In light of the statutory text and other indicia of section 790.10's purpose, however, the enrolled bill report does not appear to shed light on the number, scope, or timing of regulations that could be promulgated by the Commissioner."

After finding the Regulation was within the authority delegated by the Legislature, the Court then turned to "whether the Regulation is 'consistent and not in conflict with' the statute and whether it is 'reasonably necessary to effectuate the purpose of the statute.'" Whereas quasi-legislative rules "have the dignity of statutes" and, therefore, the review thereof is narrow, a Court reviewing an interpretive rule must determine (1) "whether the rule is within the scope of the authority conferred" and (2) "whether the rule is reasonably necessary to effectuate the statute's purpose." As to the second question, the judiciary "accords great weight and respect to the administrative construction."

In this instance, we need not decide whether the Regulation's interpretation of a "misleading" statement under section 790.03, subdivision (b) is best characterized as quasi-legislative or merely an interpretive rule devoid of any quasi-legislative authority. [Cite] Even if the Regulation were considered purely interpretive, we would conclude that the Commissioner has reasonably and properly interpreted the statutory mandate.

It is the Commissioner who is charged with implementing the UIPA. In doing so here, the Commissioner set forth his interpretation in a regulation adopted pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act. [Cite] Moreover, the Regulation does no more than identify a specific class of offending statements within the general statutory prohibition on any untrue, deceptive, or misleading statements in connection with the business of insurance. [Citations] In the Commissioner's view, "calling something a replacement cost estimate when what is being estimated is necessarily something less than what it could take to replace the structure is a misleading statement."

The Court rejected the Association's invocation of expressio unius est exclusio alterius, finding that the Legislator, instead of "choos[ing] to specify the types of statements that must be deemed misleading," "entrusted that determination instead to the Commissioner's expertise." "That the Legislature entrusted to the Commissioner the application of these and other statutory provisions to specific problems—problems the Legislature did not, and in some cases could not, anticipate—is precisely why enactment of section 790.10 makes sense in the broader statutory scheme." The Court rejected a similar argument in Ralphs Grocery v. Reimel, 69 Cal. 2d 172 (1968), finding that the existence of "separately enacted laws governing quantity discounts on milk and wine" does not deny the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control the authority to regulate quantity discounts for beer under Business and Professions Code section 25006.

The Court also "reject[ed] the suggestion by amicus curiae Pacific Association of Domestic Insurance Companies that the disclosure form mandated by Section 10102 impliedly restricted the Commissioner's authority to specify the content of a replacement cost estimate," instead finding that "the Regulation works in a complementary fashion with" the disclosure form.

The Court addressed the trial court's finding that an estimate "is inherently inaccurate and therefore cannot be deemed 'misleading'":

But the defect sought to be remedied by the Regulation is not the possibility that actual costs, for unforeseeable reasons, may not align with estimated costs. Rather, the Regulation seeks to reduce the possibility that an estimate would be misleading by ensuring that the estimate include all that is reasonably knowable about actual costs at the time the insurance contract is executed.

* * *

The individual components the Regulation requires were also subject to a brief challenge from the Association. The Association asserts, for example, that a dwelling's age (Cal. Code Regs., § 2695.183, subd. (a)(5)(J)) may have no bearing on the cost to replace the structure, and that the annual requirement to verify and update sources and methods of estimating replacement costs (id., subd. (e)) may be unnecessary if costs have not changed or have decreased in the interim. As the Commissioner pointed out in his initial statement of reasons, however, a structure's age may help identify the costs of complying with current building code requirements and assess the availability of certain materials. And the happenstance that a replacement cost estimate might in unusual circumstances remain current even without taking reasonable steps to update the sources and methods of estimating replacement costs on an annual basis is hardly a basis for invalidating the Regulation. If (as the Association supposes) the estimate thereby provided "a dollar amount higher than required to cover reconstruction," the estimate would have resulted in the unnecessary expense of overinsurance and would, once again, be misleading.

Finally, we reject the Association's challenge to the parts of the Regulation detailing the format of the replacement cost estimate, the means by which such estimates are to be communicated to the applicant or insured, and how records shall be maintained. [Cite] The Regulation deems misleading only those estimates that fail to comply with the content requirements of subdivisions (a) through (e). [Cite] Whether an estimate that fails to comply with the other parts of the Regulation is misleading would depend on the circumstances of the particular case. Because the Association has advanced only a facial challenge to the Regulation, its burden was to show, at the least, that a noncompliant estimate would not be misleading in the generality or vast majority of cases. [Cites] The Association has not carried its burden. Moreover, the recordkeeping components of the Regulation appear designed to facilitate the Commissioner's ability to examine and investigate an insurer's compliance with the substantive components of the Regulation. [Cite] We therefore reject the Association's facial challenge to the Regulation.

The Court concluded:

The Commissioner enacted the replacement cost regulation by exercising valid authority conferred under section 790.10 of the UIPA. That the Commissioner also possesses authority to enforce the statute through case-by-case adjudication merely underscores that sometimes agencies must make considered judgments about how they will implement a statute. But such authority does not preclude the Commissioner's use of a regulation to address the type of concern that motivated the present measure. Neither the UIPA nor any other statute categorically limits the Commissioner's authority to issue the Regulation. On the contrary: section 790.10 explicitly vests in the Commissioner authority to issue "reasonable rules and regulations" to administer the UIPA, which is what the Commissioner sought to do here.

Because the Regulation was invalidated below solely under the Administrative Procedure Act, neither the trial court nor the Court of Appeal has yet considered the Association's remaining challenges to the Regulation. We therefore reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeal and remand the matter for further proceedings consistent with our opinion.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.