JIS News

The House of Representatives yesterday (September 21), began debate on a consumer protection Bill entitled, ‘An Act to provide for the promotion and protection of consumer interests, in relation to the supply of goods and the provision of services in order to ensure protection of life, health and safety of consumers and others, the establishment of a Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) and for connected purposes’.
This Bill seeks to establish the CAC as a statutory body in its own right. At present, 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.
Piloting the Bill, Minister of Commerce, Science and Technology, Phillip Paulwell said, “when you look through our statute books, you will see a whole host of legislation that are designed to offer protection to the consumer. We want to reside them now in this consumer law to make it easier and certainly simpler”.
The 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; provides for the registration of providers of goods or services to consumers; enables providers and consumers to seek mediation services before taking the matter to be settled by the court; and provides redress for the CAC by the offender, where the Commission defends a matter in court.
Mr. Paulwell emphasized that the Bill represented “a significant move forward in relation to the creation of a free market economy where you have strong sellers and equally strong buyers”.
“We are very careful not to weigh the scale in favour of one or the other. What we are trying to do with this Bill is to balance the scale,” the Minister explained.
Debate on the Bill will resume at the next sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 28.

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