New consumer rights law is in force, but without strong class-action ecosystem, not much may change

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Published: July 20, 2020 5:50 AM

A new consumer rights law is in force, but without a strong class-action ecosystem, not much may change

The Act also fixes liabilities on sellers for misleading advertisement and faulty product/service, and states that cases must be closed at the earliest.The Act also fixes liabilities on sellers for misleading advertisement and faulty product/service, and states that cases must be closed at the earliest.

While the Consumer Protection Act 1986 guaranteed protection of the rights of consumers, it was not equipped to deal with digital-age problems, where e-commerce and direct sellers get away with infractions. However, the government introduced a new Bill last year that created a regulator—the previous consumer protection law had no regulator—to secure consumers’ rights. The new law comes into effect today, and one of the biggest changes is the right of a consumer to sue a company at the place of her residence and not where the company specifies. More important, the consumer can also request attendance/hearings via video conference, which will cut the cost of litigation. The Act also fixes liabilities on sellers for misleading advertisement and faulty product/service, and states that cases must be closed at the earliest.

The government is still to address some challenges, and the Economic Times reports that e-commerce rules will take a week or two to be notified. Despite several attempts by courts to give a verdict within 15 days of the hearing, cases have dragged on for outrageous lengths of time. Without a strong tort law ecosystem, the consumer will likely not get a fair deal. Class action will make a stronger case for the court to impose a pinching penalty on errant firms, which would then perhaps ensure that the consumer is not taken for granted. Else, a mere change in law will mean little.

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