CO0NSUMER LAW Essay Example

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    Undergraduate
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4CO0NSUMER LAW

CONSUMER PROTECTION LAW

Name of the of the institution

23 November 2015

Consumer protection law

Introduction

In most countries across the globe, consumer protection laws are the form of state regulations that are enacted by the government with the aim of protecting the consumer rights. Consumer protection laws are designed to hold the business people who sell goods and services accountable or responsible in the case whereby they may seek to make a profit by taking advantage of the buyers’ lack of information. The law also holds the sellers of goods and services responsibly accountable if they take advantage of consumers’ lack of bargaining power. Some of the acts that the consumer protection law addresses include: unfair practices such as fraud that business people or organizations may use to gain profit. Some of the roles of the government in consumer protection include the government requesting a business to disclose important information regarding a product, especially food products.

Historical development of consumer Laws in Australia

In Australia, Consumer Law or rather known as the Australian Consumer Law was made more effective in January 2011 (Australia.gov.au, 2015). Importantly, the Australian government has in recent years emphasized that every business should understand and know the Consumer Law and the effect the law will have on the business. The Consumer Protection Law in Australia is administered and enacted jointly by a body known as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and as well as the Territory Consumer Protection Agencies (Consumerlaw.gov.au, 2015). The Australian Consumer Protection Law is applied to any form of business regardless of the specific structure of the business. As such, this paper focuses on discussing and exploring the consumer understanding of the term consumer protection and explaining the current consumer laws that are enacted in Australia.

The meaning of consumer protection

Radan & Gooley, (2013) defined consumer protection law as the law that regulates the relationship between the individual consumers and the business people. Usually, the consumer protections focuses on regulating the businesses that sells goods and services to the consumers. According to Horvath, Villafranco, & Calkins, (2009) Consumer Protection covers a variety of topics that include; unfair business practice and business fraud. In Australia, several bodies have been formed so as to take the mandate of enforcing and enacting the consumer protection laws. The State Consumer Affairs agencies or the ACCC is one of the body with the responsibility for ensuring that the business people act accordance with the law of consumers.

Reasons for consumer protection

The main idea that is related to this consumer protection act is clear as it is to regulate the business from unfair business practice. Scholar’s claims that commercial business is well managed and well versed with the market conditions and, therefore, they are in a better position to abuse the consumers’ right (Horvath, Villafranco, & Calkins, 2009). For such exploitation to be avoided, consumer protection act is needed. Consumer protection is necessary because of the following reasons;

The basic purpose of consumer protection laws is to ensure that customers are served with simple and speedy justice as it is contrary to the nature of any form of laws. To a better understanding, consumers are protected so as to ensure that their welfare is considered by the government. Additionally, consumers’ are protected so as to ensure that their rights of choice and safety are considered by the businesses selling goods and services.

On the hand, consumer protection ensures that people are safe from imbalanced financial arrangements. Therefore, to ensure that customers are safe and protected from unfair financial arrangements as it may be done by the business people, consumer protection is necessary. Moreover, the regulations strengthens the response to which many people file complaints regarding the business practices of regulating the cost of products and services. Consumer’s protection is necessary because the act creates the awareness regarding their rights and responsibilities.

According to (Australia.gov.au, 2015) consumers should be protected since their complaints will be represented in the appropriate consumers’ law court. The court enhances that justice is done for the consumers, and the business people do not exploit the consumers in any way. More so, the consumers should be protected as the act encourages honest business people. The business people will be much focused on consumer’s satisfaction as well as making profit. With this focus, the business people will tend to follow and obey the consumer protection act henceforth, becoming honest people with the purpose of consumer satisfaction. Lastly, consumers should be protected because consumer protection act is aimed at bringing unity among consumers.

Consumer laws in Australia.

Australia is so much concerned with protecting the consumers from being exploited by the business people selling goods and services. The consumer laws in Australia works in a systemic way as it incorporates with various agencies that make the operation effective in every region of the country (Nottage, 2009). The way the consumer law work ensures both the business people and the consumers are treated with justice. For a better understanding below is a presentation of the way the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) carries out its obligations.

In Australia, the Australian Consumer Law or well known as ACL works with consumers agencies. As such, ACL was commenced on 1 January 2011. Since that time, the ACL has been supported by several agencies by incorporating them in the process of implementing it’s duties. The agencies help the ACL in formulating policies, educating the body and as well as integrating the enforcement that are done by the Australian Consumer Law. Also, the consumer ACL are supported by the consumer agencies by being updated annually regarding the work of the Commonwealth and the states that consumer protections are being implemented.

More so, as the consumer agencies work with one goal of improving and strengthening the ACL, the agencies make the consumer protection act to become consistent in handling the consumer issues. As ACL works with one purpose of enacting consumer rights, the ACL works hand in hand with territory agencies in Australia (Australia.gov.au, 2015). The ACL that commenced on 2011 works with these territory agencies in the relevant matters that concerns the protection of consumer rights.

So as to strengthen the work of ACL, all the consumer protection agencies that work with ACL in Australia have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) so as to understand the way each agency will work together with the ACL (Parker, 2004). Importantly, the MOU has in recent years helped the Australian government in implementing, administering and enforcing the ACL. Also, the ACL work by publishing the compliance and enforcement guidelines that help the consumers to understand their rights and the ways they can use to seek justice in any case of the violation of the consumer law in Australia by any business.

The current consumers’ laws at the state and federal level in Australia

The implementation of the consumer policy or laws in Australia is shared between the state government and the federal government. Both parties play a major role in developing and maintaining the consumer laws (Consumerlaw.gov.au, 2015). Furthermore, the international engagements that relate to the consumer law in Australia are also administered by the state, and federal level as both parties are much concerned with maintaining the consistency of the ACL.

For Australia to approach customer protection successful, the country is currently operating at both the federal and the state level. At both the federal and the state level, the Australian government is seeking to develop a scheme of consumer protection law that will be easily be understood by the consumers as well as the business people.

Consumer laws at the federal level in Australia

In Australia, the consumer law at the federal level is administered by the Competition and Consumer Act. The act was passed in 2010 to succeed the Trade Practice Act of 1974. Therefore, at the federal level in Australia, the main source of the consumer protection is contained in provisions that are set in the Competition and Consumer Act (Radan, Gooley & Vickovich, 2014). Currently, the 2010 Competition and Consumer Act that contains the provision of consumer protection has been strengthening so as to ensure that the process of protecting consumers is consistency and effective.

On a current development, at the federal level the Competition and Consumer Act has the power to reassign and ban the supply of goods that are not safe for consumers. The act has over the recent years helped the Australian government regulate product safety and enhance that the product that is being sold to the consumers is of the right standards at the federal level. For example, in a research done by (Nottage, 2009) indicates at the federal level businesses are being regulated to follow the mandatory standards that are set by the Trade Practice Act in designing children and adult clothes. The Competition and Consumer Act is the source of the consumer’s protections has over the recent years helped the government to deal with issue such as;

• False or misleading information.

• Unconscionable conduct of the business people.

• Business misleading or deceptive conduct.

Consumer laws at the state level in Australia

In this context, governing the consumer protection in Australia at the state level has been adapted from the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). At this level consumer protection is known as the Fair Trading Legislation whereby it is being applied in each state and as well as territory (Radan & Gooley, 2013). The consumer protection laws at the state level are regulated or operated by the Consumer Protection Agencies in all states and territories. Currently, the consumer law at the state level in Australia has been developed that is, in some parts of the country the laws are regulated by the Department of Commerce. For example in Western Australia, consumer protection laws are governed by the Department of Commerce. Some of the consumer laws regulated at the state level include;

• The commercial dispute that may arise between the business and the customers.

• Unfair contracts between customers and businesses.

Ways a consumer will get relief through a court system

If a consumer is not satisfied with a product being offered to him/her, legal actions may be applied to business selling that product. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has in recent years considered if a consumer is dissatisfied with the products and services a business is offering then litigation is the appropriate way that is used to enforce and the compliance.

Keyzer, (2003) outlines that consumer relief is well served when the customer gets the refund, repair, replacement or even compensation. In the case of the consumer seeking a relief regarding a product that is not satisfying, the case is filed in the court but through ACCC. The ACCC takes the matter to the court system and if the court found the customer complaints valid pecuniary penalties are imposed on the business that has breached the law of customer protection. As the consumer dissatisfaction is a sign of business violating the consumer laws as provided in the Competition and Consumer Act or either in the Australian Consumer Law (ACL), the penalties imposed inform of compensation or refund will serve complaint or the consumer filing the case a relief.

Conclusion

In conclusion, therefore, the consumer protection laws are vital in any nation. The Act that regulates consumer protection ensures that consumers are not exploited in any way by the business people as they seek to earn the profit and become competitive. Importantly, the Act protecting the consumers ensures that the rights of the consumers in the trade practices are maintained, and the business people are consistent regarding consumer protections. As the Australian government continues to recognize the need for consumer protection laws, the government has incorporated into major agencies that are associated with the consumer protection act in the country. To achieve a consistent and maintain ace of the Act, consumer protection laws has been developed in federal and the states levels. Through such action, the Australian government has safeguarded the consumers from any unlawful goods and services that may abuse the right of the consumers. The consumer protection laws in Australia has been referred to as the consumer guarantees as they set to protect the consumers. Lastly, the consumer protection law has helped the consumers to gain the right of replacement and as well as compensation in case a business violates the law.

Bibliography

Australia.gov.au, (2015). Consumer protection | australia.gov.au. [online] Available at: http://www.australia.gov.au/information-and-services/public-safety-and-law/consumer-protection [Accessed 23 Nov. 2015].

Consumerlaw.gov.au, (2015). Consumers and the ACL | The Australian Consumer Law. [online] Available at: http://consumerlaw.gov.au/consumers-and-the-acl/ [Accessed 23 Nov. 2015].

Henry, P. (2010). How Mainstream Consumers Think about Consumer Rights and Responsibilities. Journal of Consumer Res, 37(4), pp.670-687.

Horvath, A., Villafranco, J. and Calkins, S. (2009). Consumer protection law developments. Chicago, IL: ABA Section of Antitrust Law.

Keyzer, P. (2003). Legal problem solving. a guide for law students
2nd Edition Sydney: Butterworths.

Nottage, L. (2009). Consumer law reform in Australia: Contemporary and Comparative Constructive Criticism. Journal of QUT Law Review, 9(2).

Parker, C. (2004). Restorative Justice in Business Regulation? The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Use of Enforceable Undertakings. Modern Law Journal Review, 67(2), pp.209-246.

Radan & Gooley, (2013), Principles of Australian Contract Law, 3rd Edition, LexisNexis

Radan, Gooley & Vickovich, (2014), Principles of Australian Contract Law, Cases and Materials, (3rd Edition, LexisNexis