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Presentation on theme: " EFFECTIVE COOPERATION WITH THE MEDIA Robert Michel Praia February 2011 CONSUMER LAW PROTECTION A Development guide Hong Kong."— Presentation transcript:

1 EFFECTIVE COOPERATION WITH THE MEDIA Robert Michel Praia February 2011 CONSUMER LAW PROTECTION A Development guide Hong Kong Congress, May 2011 by Robert Michel CONSUMERS INTERNATIONAL

2 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.

3 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

4 Illiteracy rate among 15 to 24 year olds in assorted SADC countries UNESCO 2006 Botswana6.2 % DR Congo7.2 % Lesotho5.8 % Madagascar 11.4 % Malawi 19.4 % Mauritius3.2 % Mozambique 23.6 % Namibia4.4 % South Africa5.6 % Swaziland4.7 %

5 The resulting product: A guide to developing Consumer law protection Contents 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

6 Benchmarking Best Practice Dont 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…)

7 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

8 Checklist for comparative research analysis 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

9 Be aware 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

10 Key issues for a consumer protection framework 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

11 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

12 Apart from the Courts Consumer can seek justice and redress through -Sector ombudsmen -Statute-based tribunerals -Chambers of Commerce -Class action -Standing regulations -Effective legal aid

13 Lastly…. The guide provides Tips where one can get legal support The guide provides some international contacts As well as some foundations one can approach for funding

14 The End

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