What is consumer protection?
Consumer protection is the practice of safeguarding buyers of goods and services, and the public, against unfair practices in the marketplace. Consumer protection measures are often established by law. Such laws are intended to prevent businesses from engaging in fraud or specified unfair practices to gain an advantage over competitors or to mislead consumers.
They may also provide additional protection for the general public which may be impacted by a product (or its production) even when they are not the direct purchaser or consumer of that product. For example, government regulations may require businesses to disclose detailed information about their products—particularly in areas where public health or safety is an issue, such as with food or automobiles.
What is consumer protection linked to?
Consumer protection is linked to the idea of consumer rights and to the formation of consumer organizations, which help consumers make better choices in the marketplace and pursue complaints against businesses. Entities that promote consumer protection include government organizations (such as the Competition Authority of Kenya), self-regulating business organizations (such as the Better Business Bureaus in the US, Canada, England, etc.), and non-governmental organizations that advocate for consumer protection laws and help to ensure their enforcement (such as Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK).
A consumer is defined as someone who acquires goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing. Consumer interests can also serve consumers, consistent with economic efficiency, but this topic is treated in competition law. Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government organizations and individuals as consumer activism.
What are some of the consumer protection rights and interests?
- The right to satisfaction of basic needs
- The right to safety
- The right to be informed
- The right to choose
- The right to be heard
- The right to redress
- The right to consumer education
- The right to a healthy environment
What is consumer law?
Consumer protection law or consumer law is considered as an area of law that regulates private law relationships between individual consumers and the businesses that sell those goods and services. In Kenya, Article 46 of the Constitution specifies consumer rights. The Consumer Protection Act, 2012 is the comprehensive statutory legislation
What does consumer law cover?
Consumer protection covers a wide range of topics, including but not necessarily limited to product liability, privacy rights, unfair business practices, fraud, misrepresentation, and other consumer/business interactions. It is a way of preventing frauds and scams from service and sales contracts, eligible fraud, bill collector regulation, pricing, utility turnoffs, consolidation, personal loans that may lead to bankruptcy.
In Australia, the corresponding agency is the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission or the individual State Consumer Affairs agencies. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission has responsibility for consumer protection regulation of financial services and products. However, in practice, it does so through privately run EDR schemes such as the Australian Financial Complaints Authority.
In Brazil, consumer protection is regulated by the Consumer’s Defense Code (Código de Defesa do Consumidor), as mandated by the 1988 Constitution of Brazil. Brazilian law mandates “The offer and presentation of products or services must ensure correct, clear, accurate and conspicuous information in the Portuguese language about their characteristics, qualities, quantity, composition, price, guarantee, validity and origin, among other data, as well as the risks they pose to the health and safety of consumers.” In Brazil, the consumer does not have to bring forward evidence that the defender is guilty. Instead, the defense has to bring forward evidence that they are innocent. In the case of Brazil, they narrowly define what a consumer, supplier, product, and services [pt] are, so that they can protect consumers from international channels trade laws and protect them from negligence and misconduct from international suppliers.
Germany, as a member state of the European Union, is bound by the consumer protection directives of the European Union; residents may be directly bound by EU regulations. A minister of the federal cabinet is responsible for consumer rights and protection (Verbraucherschutzminister). In the current cabinet of Olaf Scholz, this is Steffi Lemke.
When issuing public warnings about products and services, the issuing authority has to take into account that this affects the supplier’s constitutionally protected economic liberty, see Bundesverwaltungsgericht (Federal Administrative Court) Case 3 C 34.84, 71 BVerwGE 183.
In India, consumer protection is specified in The Consumer Protection Act,of 2019. Under this law, Separate Consumer Dispute Redress Forums have been set up throughout India in every district in which a consumer can file their complaint on a simple paper with nominal court fees and their complaint will be decided by the Presiding Officer of the District Level. The complaint can be filed by both the consumer of a goods as well as of the services. An appeal could be filed to the State Consumer Disputes Redress Commissions and after that to the National Consumer Disputes RedresaRedressalsion (NCDRC).
The procedures in these tribunals are relatively less formal and more people-friendly and they also take less time to decide upon a consumer dispute when compared to the years-long time taken by the traditional Indian judiciary. In recent years, many effective judgments have been passed by some state and National Consumer Forums.
Indian Contract Act, 1872 lays down the conditions in which promises made by parties to a contract will be legally binding on each other. It also lays down the remedies available to the aggregate party if the other party fails to honor their promise.
The Sale of Goods Act of 1930 provides some safeguards to buyers of goods if goods purchased do not fulfill the express or implied conditions and warranties.
The Agriculture Produce Act of 1937 act provides grade standards for agricultural commodities and livestock products. It specifies the conditions which govern the use of standards and lays down the procedure for grading, marking, and packaging of agricultural produce. The quality mark provided under the act is known as AGMARK-Agriculture Marketing.
Article 46: Consumer Rights in Kenya
(1) Consumers have the right–
(a) to goods and services of reasonable quality;
(b) to the information necessary for them to gain full benefit from goods and services;
(c) to the protection of their health, safety, and economic interests; and
(d) to compensation for loss or injury arising from defects in goods or services.
(2) Parliament shall enact legislation to provide for consumer protection and for fair, honest and decent advertising.
(3) This Article applies to goods and services offered by public entities or private persons.