JIS News

The consumer protection Bill entitled, An Act to Provide for the Promotion and Protection of Consumer Interests was passed yesterday (Sept.28) in the House of Representatives.
The Bill addresses the supply of goods and the provision of services in order to ensure the protection of life, health and safety of consumers and others and for connected purposes.
It also seeks to establish the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) as a statutory body. Presently, the Commission operates pursuant to the Trade Act and is limited in its function as an advocate of consumers. In addition to the establishment of the CAC, one of the main purposes of the Bill is to codify existing laws.
Responding to suggestions by Opposition members that the legislation overlapped with other pieces of legislation such as the Trade Act and should be rewritten, Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell assured that the Bill had gone through the rigours and had been vetted by the private sector.
“This is a Bill that has gone through tremendous consideration.what we are seeking to do is to remove duplication,” Mr. Paulwell stated, noting that the Bill sought to consolidate the other pieces of legislation such as the Trade Act, the Sales of Goods Act, the Hire Purchase Act and the Fair Competition Act.
“What we are trying to ensure is that when we say to the consumer, under this free market system, you have power, the consumer can go to one body of rules and get redress,” he stressed.
The Commerce Minister further remarked that this type of legislation was not new to this part of the world but were provisions that obtained in modern, capitalist societies where, “the private sector is not scared away from provisions like these because they believe in honest business practices.”
The consumer protection Bill also seeks to establish additional rights. It will establish the duties of consumers and providers, improve redress received by a consumer whose rights have been breached and create offences for misleading and deceptive conduct, false representations, unfair and unsafe practices.
The legislation makes provisions to ensure that contracts made between consumers and providers contain provisions that satisfy the test of reasonableness; speaks to the registration of providers of goods or services to consumers; enables providers and consumers to seek mediation services before taking the matter to the courts; and provides redress for the CAC by the offender where the Commission defends a matter in court.

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