Civil Penalties under Section 5(m) of the Federal Trade Commission Act
Section 5(m) of the Federal Trade Commission Act promises to greatly enhance the Commission's consumer protection role. For the first time in its history, the FTC is empowered to enforce the law of deceptive trade practices, embodied in its rules and case determinations, through civil penalty actions against firms that are not themselves subject to Commission cease and desist orders. It is far from clear, however, how section 5(m) will work in practice, for the statute is ambiguous on many important questions and silent on others. In this article Mr. Bickart identifies and examines certain major problems with the statute that the courts and the Commission will soon confront.