Work begins on consumer protection law

| 03/12/2015 | 16 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): The Law Reform Commission (LRC) is inviting the community to wade in on the subject of consumer protection with the release of a discussion document, as it begins to draft potential legislation to protect people from misleading or unfair practices in everyday commercial transactions. Currently, there is no specific legislation to protect people in this field, only a price gouging law that only applies in emergencies and the sale of goods act, which is inadequate and does not cover services.

The commission said the overall objectives of new legislation should be to “promote and advance the social and economic welfare of consumers by establishing a legal framework for the achievement and maintenance of a consumer market that is accessible, fair, efficient, responsible and sustainable for the benefit of consumers generally, and which provides adequate safeguards to vulnerable consumers”.

Members of the LRC said the outcome for any consumer protection policy should be an environment where people can transact business with confidence.

“If there is no deterrent, businesses are likely to breach consumer rights with impunity and this can adversely impact consumer confidence. Consumers who lack confidence delay in entering into transactions or may choose not to purchase goods and services if it is perceived that the risks are too high. Consequently, this may have an adverse effect on competition, market efficiency and ultimately the economy,” they said in the consultation document posted below.

As a result of the economic crisis, the issue of consumer protection is one of increasing concern as the issue impacts all members of the community, not just the poor and the vulnerable. The commissioners stated that along with strong and clear rules, there is a need to educate both consumers and businesses about rights and responsibilities.

The goal to promote a fair and competitive marketplace in Cayman will need to adequately balance protection for all consumers on one hand without imposing additional burdens on reputable business on the other.

Recent public debate about fuel prices, the need for a public utilities commission, mortgagee protection legislation and issues over technological services are all related to consumer protection, but it also covers a broad range of things the public pays for, such as the food we eat and the medicines we take.

The concept of consumer protection is about trust, so that people know that goods and services are not just value for money and fit for purpose but also that they will not harm them or, where the product is inherently harmful, such as alcohol or tobacco, that people are adequately informed of its dangers. It should also offer consumers a way to seek redress, restitution and remedies if there is dissatisfaction or concern.

United Nations Consumer Protection Guidelines recommend that all countries should take into account the interests and needs of consumers and recognise that consumers often face imbalances in economic terms, educational levels and bargaining powers and consider that consumers should have the right of access to non-hazardous products.

As they begin the work to draw up appropriate legislation for the Cayman Islands, the commissioners have said that the areas for discussion include the provision of services, including travel and financial services, the sale of electronics, cars, and even home construction. The activities of fraudsters, unfair or unjust terms in contracts and high-pressure sales will also be examined. E-commerce, online shopping and consumer warranties are also on the commissioners’ agenda for consideration.

“It is important to determine what rights should be the subject of protection in any proposed consumer legislation,” they said in the consultation document.

Protections need to be comprehensive and consumers should expect the right to be protected against the marketing of hazardous goods, the right to know about the quality, quantity, potency, purity standard and price of goods, as well as the right to be heard when complaining and redress against unfair practices. In turn the obligations imposed on providers need to be appropriate to ensure fairness and to prevent harassment and provide information standards.

Consumer Protection – Discussion Paper 27th November, 2015

Stakeholders and members of the general public are invited to make submissions on the issues and proposals identified in the Discussion Paper below. Submissions should be forwarded in writing by post or hand no later than 29 April, 2016 to the Director of the Law Reform Commission, 4th Floor, Government Administration Building, Portfolio of Legal Affairs, 133 Elgin Avenue, George Town, Grand Cayman, P.O. Box 136, Grand Cayman KY1-9000 or emailed to cilrc@gov.ky

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Category: Government oversight, Laws, Politics

Comments (16)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Many times a service guarantee is good for as long as it takes for your check to clear the bank. The law would be great but enforcement or law is, was and I feel always will be a problem.

  2. Anonymous says:

    A bar of exclusion of liability for negligence causing personal injuries and a reasonableness test for other negligence would be helpful. The UK has only had that for nearly 40 years. Single best consumer protection step possible.

  3. Jeff says:

    So how would this work? Which CIG department has the resources to enforce this law? We can’t get proper enforcement for the laws we have now.

    • Anonymous says:

      Civil rights and civil enforcement. Chuck in treble damages if a complaint is improperly rejected before any lawsuit. Works great in the States.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Please hurry with consumer protection legislation! There is a particular telecommunications company which continues to change its name, from which its customers need protection from its poor service!

    • Anonymous says:

      Higher internet charges and poorer service. Not able to connect, service not available, but the bill must be paid for crap service.

  5. Anonymous says:

    how about an expat protection law? As it is those are the only class that current laws apply to

    • Anonymous says:

      When are we going to have a law that protects the rights of the born Caymanian? Amen.

      • Anonymous says:

        Born Caymanians what does that mean? children of those that escaped from Jamaica?

        • Anonymous says:

          It means the sort of everyday racism that local politicians not only refuse to criticise but positively promote.

  6. Anonymous says:

    This is long overdue and a very good step in the right direction.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Excellent work PPM! This Law can go on the shelf with all of the other Laws that are not enforced such as T&B, Planning, Traffic, Immigration, Littering, Selling cars on side of the road, and on and on and on…………………………..

    • Anonymous says:

      Please enforce the laws. Littering is an important one, it would be a step in the right direction. Collect money, instead of spending to clean up.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Much needed, and long overdue. The frequency of ripoffs, extortion, and burns here is baffling. There are many businesses routinely pushing the limit, deliberately overstating or duplicating bills, with invoices for work never done, and parts never ordered. Police know it’s a common complaint but can’t really help, not their area of expertise. Often the ripoff is carefully orchestrated to be just small enough that a Grand Court action is unlikely to follow ie. $20-$30,000 and just not worth the long drawn-out heartache of a court case that could easily cost double before it reaches a civil court judge. There are extortionists that have made a career out of ripping people off for decades and flaunt their success.

    • Anonymous says:

      An example of suppliers importing goods after hurricane Ivan in 2004. The items were duty free and the prices rose by 200 – 300 percent . What was done about that?
      It was more than price gouging and is still happening. This is the reason people have to look elsewhere to make their purchases. Too many extortionists.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Talk about a day late and a dollar short. This was being worked on nearly a decade ago and got quietly dropped.

    We live with a situation where international warranties on consumer goods are not (or more likely cannot) be honoured and where stores stock electrical equipment that cannot legally be sold in the USA – not much scope for consumer confidence in that is there?

    Would you buy something like a $1500 HD TV at a store on-island when all they offer is a limited 30-day warranty? Me neither – mine is a private import with an international warranty as are most of my household electrical/electronic goods.

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