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CONSUMER LAW PROTECTION A Development guide Hong Kong Congress, May 2011 by Robert Michel [email protected] - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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EFFECTIVE COOPERATION WITH THE MEDIA. CONSUMER LAW PROTECTION A Development guide Hong Kong Congress, May 2011 by Robert Michel [email protected] Robert Michel Praia February 2011. CONSUMERS INTERNATIONAL. consumersinternational.org. Background to the Project.

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CONSUMER LAW PROTECTIONA Development guideHong Kong Congress, May 2011by Robert [email protected]

Robert Michel


February 2011



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Background to the Project

  • Many African countries have enacted consumer laws since 1996

  • And while South Africa f.e. boasts one of the most progressive consumer laws, neighbouring countries like Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland have none

  • The regional body SADC has nobody in charge\ to look after consumers

  • With all of the above in mind OSISA expressed an interest to improve the above situation.


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Illiteracy levels in Southern Africa are coupled with a relatively low population density of 23.5 people per square kilometre

  • the SADC region is a scattered, largely underserved market

  • the SADC region is a very poor region; some 45 % of all people in SADC live on 1 US $ a day

  • Increased difficulties exist in accessing and solving consumer abuses

  • the poor in general and poor people living in rural areas in particular often have a “poverty premium” to pay for goods and services that are generally of less quality than in urban areas


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Illiteracy rate among 15 to 24 year olds in assorted SADC countries UNESCO 2006

  • Botswana 6.2 %

  • DR Congo 7.2 %

  • Lesotho 5.8 %

  • Madagascar 11.4 %

  • Malawi 19.4 %

  • Mauritius 3.2 %

  • Mozambique 23.6 %

  • Namibia 4.4 %

  • South Africa 5.6 %

  • Swaziland 4.7 %


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The resulting product: countries

A guide to developing

Consumer law protection


  • page 7 Introduction

  • page 8 Consumer protection regulation

  • page 9 Is consumer protection a right or a policy?

  • page 9 The consumer in the SADC region

  • page 10 The regulator and the market

  • page 11 Private law or public law?

  • page 12 Benchmarking international regulations

  • page 14 Databases for foreign regulation

  • page 14 Checklist: a tool for comparative analyses

  • page 17 Regulatory assessment

  • page 18 Needs analysis and indicators for success

  • page 20 Key issues

  • page 20 Institutional framework for consumer protection

  • page 21 The challenge of utilities regulation

  • page 22 Financial services

  • page 23 Access to redress

  • page 25 Tools for legal advocacy

  • page 25 Targeting the audience for lobbying

  • page 27 Partners, potential donors and fundraising

  • page 30 References


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Benchmarking Best Practice countries

  • Don’t make a leap of faith and assume there are no regulations or no laws

  • Always do your own due diligence on others’ ‘best practice’

  • Do you need to harmonise or to co-ordinate with other states?

  • Start with comparative law research (check SADC, EAC, COMESA, WTO treaties, national constitutions, sectorial laws, laws that would allow for redress (civil procedures, legal aid…)


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A Guide to Consumer Law Protection was needed in Southern Africa!

But what is a Consumer Protection Law?

  • Consumer protection can be treated as an extension to criminal law

  • Consumer protection is also implied in the contract process (it is assumed that each party to the contract will do everything in its power to honour the agreement)

  • Consumer Protection can also be seen as a civil or human right


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Checklist for comparative research analysis Africa!

  • Lawmakers and regulations under drafting

  • Legal sources for consumer protection

  • Commercial practices and advertisement regulations

  • Form of contracts

  • Regulation of contract content and legislation on liabilities and guarantees

  • Competition Law

  • Specific Industry regulations

  • Dispute resolution mechanisms and resources

  • Other generic consumer issues

  • Other related rights


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Be aware Africa!

Legislative tools are often in place on paper but are not enforced often due to a combination of or lack of

  • Will

  • Funding

  • Legislative clarity


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Key issues for a consumer protection framework Africa!

  • Independence

  • Enforcement of existing regulations (are there consumer protection agencies and how well do they function?)

  • Consultative activities for future regulators

  • Consumer advisory councils and committees


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Redress Mechanisms are at the core of all consumer protection regulations

In the SADC region business – to – business redress

in 2010 was as follows (extremely optimistic):

  • Number of procedures to enforce a contract

    • 37.1 procedures

  • Total time to enforce a contract

    • 645.1 days

  • Costs

    • 52 % of the total value of the claim

      For the average consumer delays are usually too long and can cost up to 100 % of the claim and can thus become a barrier to redress and thus justice

  • consumersinternational.org

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    Apart from the Courts protection regulations

    Consumer can seek justice and redress through

    • Sector ombudsmen

    • Statute-based tribunerals

    • Chambers of Commerce

    • Class action

    • Standing regulations

    • Effective legal aid


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    Lastly…. The guide provides protection regulations

    • Tips where one can get legal support

    • The guide provides some international contacts

    • As well as some foundations one can approach for funding


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    The End protection regulations