- CAC seeking to heighten awareness of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act
- Parties should endeavour to settle issues using the CAC’s conciliation process and resort to the tribunal only where necessary
- CPA enacted in 2005
The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) is seeking to heighten awareness of the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), as well as the rights of providers and users of goods and services.
This is being done through activities such as its CPA sensitisation workshop, which was held on Wednesday, September 19, at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston under the theme: ‘The CPA and You: Balancing Business Responsibility and Consumer Protection’.
CAC Chairperson, Lorna Green, in her address at the opening ceremony, argued that, for years, vendors and consumers have “been at odds’ over matters pertaining to their rights.
She said the workshop presents an opportunity to “get you all together, (and) doing the education that is necessary to ensure that we have consumers who are informed, who are advocates, and who will ensure that their rights are protected. This (also) forms part of a comprehensive business education programme designed especially for you, the business community, who have expressed a desire for such a forum.”
In addition to providing a general overview of the CPA, which was enacted in 2005, presentations at the workshop also focused on: how the Act’s original provisions, and subsequent amendments effected during the 2012/13 parliamentary year, impact business processes; consumers rights and responsibilities; redress mechanisms; sanctions imposable under the Act; and the role of the newly established Consumer Protection Tribunal (CPT), among other matters.
“Through the staging of (this) workshop and our interactions, I sincerely hope that a better understanding and appreciation of the dynamics necessary to create the balance between businesses and consumers will be developed. However, this can only happen through frank discussions and a willingness to see the other side,” Mrs. Green said.
In her remarks, State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, cited the workshop’s timelines, pointing out that “it is very important that we understand…and have the (necessary) information” pertaining to business transactions.
Consumer Protection Tribunal (CPT) Chairman, Kent Pantry, Q.C., said while the CPT is empowered, under the amended CPA, to preside over disputes between consumers and vendors, and make rulings on matters deemed in breach of the Act, parties should endeavour to settle issues using the CAC’s conciliation process and other provisions in the Act, and resort to the tribunal only where necessary.
“There are mechanisms in the Act to settle disputes. So these (CPT) referrals should be matters which, after all the other resolutions are attempted, and cannot be resolved, then we get to the stage of having the matters brought before the tribunal,’ Mr. Pantry said.