(a) Every auctioneer and auction company shall maintain a bond issued by a surety company admitted to do business in this state. The principal sum of the bond shall be twenty thousand dollars ($20,000). A copy of the bond shall be filed with the Secretary of State.
(b) The bond required by this section shall be in favor of, and payable to, the people of the State of California and shall be for the benefit of any person or persons damaged by any fraud, dishonesty, misstatement, misrepresentation, deceit, unlawful acts or omissions, or failure to provide the services of the auctioneer or auction company in performance of the auction by the auctioneer or auction company or its agents, representatives, or employees while acting within the scope of their employment.
(c)(1) No auctioneer or auction company shall conduct any business without having a current surety bond in the amount prescribed by this section and without filing a copy of the bond with the Secretary of State.
(2) Thirty days prior to the cancellation or termination of any surety bond required by this section, the surety shall send a written notice of that cancellation or termination to both the auctioneer or auction company and the Secretary of State, identifying the bond and the date of cancellation or termination.
(3) If any auctioneer or auction company fails to obtain a new bond and file a copy of that bond with the Secretary of State by the effective date of the cancellation or termination of the former bond, the auctioneer or auction company shall cease to conduct any business unless and until that time as a new surety bond is obtained and a copy of that bond is filed with the Secretary of State.
(d) A deposit may be made in lieu of a bond as set forth in Section 995.710 of the Code of Civil Procedure . When a deposit is made in lieu of the bond, the person asserting the claim against the deposit shall establish the claim by furnishing evidence to the Secretary of State of a money judgment entered by a court together with evidence that the claimant is a person described in subdivision (b).
(e) When a claimant has established the claim with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State shall review and approve the claim and enter the date of approval on the claim. The claim shall be designated an “approved claim.”
(f) When the first claim against a particular deposit has been approved, it shall not be paid until the expiration of a period of 240 days after the date of its approval by the Secretary of State. Subsequent claims that are approved by the Secretary of State within the same 240-day period shall similarly not be paid until the expiration of the 240-day period. Upon expiration of the 240-day period, the Secretary of State shall pay all approved claims from that 240-day period in full unless the deposit is insufficient, in which case each approved claim shall be paid a pro rata share of the deposit.
(g) When the Secretary of State approves the first claim against a particular deposit after the expiration of a 240-day period, the date of approval of that claim shall begin a new 240-day period to which subdivision (f) shall apply with respect to any amount remaining in the deposit.
(h) After a deposit is exhausted, no further claims shall be paid by the Secretary of State. Claimants who have had their claims paid in full or in part pursuant to subdivision (f) or (g) shall not be required to return funds received from the deposit for the benefit of other claimants.
(i) When a deposit has been made in lieu of a bond, the amount of the deposit shall not be subject to attachment, garnishment, or execution with respect to an action or judgment against the auctioneer or auction company, other than as to that amount that is no longer needed or required for the purpose of this section that otherwise would be returned to the auctioneer or auction company by the Secretary of State.
(j) The Secretary of State shall retain a cash deposit for two years from the date the Secretary of State receives written notification from the assignor of the deposit that the assignor has ceased to engage in the business of an auctioneer or auction company or has filed a bond pursuant to subdivision (a), provided that there are no outstanding claims against the deposit. Written notification to the Secretary of State shall include all of the following: (1) name, address, and telephone number of the assignor; (2) name, address, and telephone number of the bank at which the deposit is located; (3) account number of the deposit; and (4) a statement whether the assignor is ceasing to engage in the business of an auctioneer or auction company or has filed a bond with the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State shall forward an acknowledgment of receipt of the written notice to the assignor at the address indicated in the notice, specifying the date of receipt of the written notice and anticipated date of release of the deposit, provided there are no outstanding claims against the deposit.
(k) A judge of a superior court may order the return of the deposit prior to the expiration of two years upon evidence satisfactory to the judge that there are no outstanding claims against the deposit or order the Secretary of State to retain the deposit for a specified period beyond the two years pursuant to subdivision (j) to resolve outstanding claims against the deposit.
(l) If an auctioneer or auction company fails to perform any of the duties specifically imposed upon him or her pursuant to this title, any person may maintain an action for enforcement of those duties or to recover a civil penalty in the amount of one thousand dollars ($1,000), or for both enforcement and recovery.
(m) In any action to enforce these duties or to recover civil penalties, or for both enforcement and recovery, the prevailing plaintiff shall be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees and costs, in addition to the civil penalties provided under subdivision (l).
(n) Notwithstanding the repeal of Chapter 3.7 (commencing with Section 5700 ) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code by the act adding this chapter, any cash security in lieu of the surety bond formerly required and authorized by former Chapter 3.7 (commencing with Section 5700 ) of Division 3 of the Business and Professions Code, shall be transferred to, and maintained by, the Secretary of State.
(o) The Secretary of State shall charge and collect a filing fee not to exceed the cost of filing the bond or deposit filed in lieu of a bond as set forth in Section 995.710 of the Code of Civil Procedure .
(p) The Secretary of State shall enforce the provisions of this chapter that govern the filing and maintenance of bonds and deposits in lieu of bonds.
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