JIS News

Cabinet is slated to receive the names of persons nominated to sit on the proposed Consumer Protection Tribunal, during its weekly meeting at Jamaica House on Monday, March 18.

Industry, Investment and Commerce Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, who will make the submission, says the Chairman and members have already been identified and the legal and legislative requirements put in place to facilitate commencement of the panel’s work, once the members have been approved.

He made the announcement during a World Consumer Rights Day media briefing, held at the Ministry in New Kingston, on March 15.

The Tribunal is one several provisions under the recently amended Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act 2012, which was gazetted on January 29 this year, and came into effect on February 1. It will fall under the direct purview of the Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC).

It is anticipated that the Tribunal will be able to commence activities by the beginning of the 2013/14 fiscal year, with hearings into consumer-related disputes, where required, being held at the CAC’s head office in Kingston as well as the regional offices in Montego Bay and Mandeville.

Minister Hylton underscored the pivotal role which the Tribunal is expected to play in settling disputes.

“The existence of this tribunal is expected to result in a quantum leap in the consumer’s confidence in the system of redress. It will also send a clear signal to the providers of goods and services that they must adhere to standards and best practices, as the consumer now has added legislative protection,” Mr. Hylton said.

Chairperson of the CAC, Ms. Lorna Green, explained that the Tribunal should enable the agency to more effectively settle disputes, where the mediation process falls short.

“The Tribunal’s establishment is expected to lead to the quicker resolution and disposal of matters, especially longstanding ones, and a reduction of costs to the parties involved,” she assured.

Amendment of the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act forms part of the Ministry’s effort to institute a robust legislative framework that will safeguard the rights of consumers.

Other provisions under the amended Act include: empowering the CAC to initiate investigations of breaches and institute legal action on behalf of complainants; levying criminal sanctions against entities failing to issue warranties for merchandise; provision of more detailed information on the computation of prices and all components of goods and services, including general consumption tax (GCT); and prohibiting the imposition of restocking fees when the consumer requests a refund, because the provider has failed to meet advertised delivery dates.

By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter

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