CONSUMER PROTECTION FURTHER STRENGTHENED BY THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A TRIBUNAL

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PAUL QUEELEY, DIRECTOR OF DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS

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“This is what the [Bill] is here for now. Within the [Bill], there would be a tribunal, a Board that persons can seek redress. When they come to our department they would lodge complaints and if it is not something that we, ourselves, as officers can resolve, then the Board would take it,” said Trista Wattley-Stennett, Senior Consumer Affairs Officer within the Department of Consumer Affairs during the August 25 edition of ‘Working for You’.

Mrs. Wattley-Stennett said that the Consumer Protection Bill, 2021, is extremely important, adding that “It would guide our department in the form of having a Board put in place so that all these things can be redressed.”

MRS. TRISTA WATTLEY-STENNETT

Paul Queeley, Director within the Department of Consumer Affairs, gave an overview of the intentions of the Bill.

“…The Bill is based on the CARICOM Consumer Protection Legislation which was drafted with the intention of having it adopted across all Member States. It seeks to give effect to the Communities Competition Policy articulated in Part two (2) of Chapter eight (8) of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, specifically Articles 184 and 185,” said Director Queeley. “Article 185 provides that the following policy objectives should be addressed: the fundamental terms of a contract and the implied obligations of parties to a contract for the supply of goods or services; the prohibition of inclusion of unconscionable terms in contracts for the sale and supply of goods or services to consumers; the prohibition of unfair trading practices, particularly such practices relating to misleading or deceptive or fraudulent conduct, and the prohibition of production and supply of harmful and defective goods and for the adoption of measures to prevent the supply or sale of such goods including measures requiring the removal of defective goods from the market,” he added.

Director Queeley said that other policy objectives under Article 185 read that the provision of services is in compliance with applicable regulations, standards, codes, and licensing requirements; goods supplied to consumers are labelled in accordance with the standards and specifications prescribed by competent authorities; hazardous or other goods whose distribution and consumption are regulated by law are sold or supplied in accordance with applicable regulations, and that goods or materials, the production or use of which is likely to result in potentially harmful environmental effects are labelled and supplied in accordance with applicable standards and regulations.

Additionally, that the producers and suppliers are reliable for defects in goods and for violation of product standards and consumer safety standards which cause loss or damage to consumers and that violations of consumer safety standards by producers or suppliers are appropriately sanctioned and relevant. The director said that civil criminal defenses to such violations are available to defendants.

The Consumer Protection Bill, 2021, was read for the first time in the National Assembly on August 05, by the Honourable Minister responsible for Consumer Affairs, Senator Wendy Phipps.

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