Universal evolution of consumer protection
We The Consumers defined and need to be protected
:Any individual who purchase products or services for his personal use and not for manufacturing or resale is a consumer. Consumers by definition, include us all, we are the largest economic group in this economy . We are the victims of ruthless and exploitative in the market like food adulteration, undue weights, misleading agreements, false claims etc. In this consumer centric economic system protection of consumers is the pivotal for the economic development.
Consumer protection ensures that people everywhere are treated fairly in the market place and have access to safe healthy products and services. It means to curb inequalities and to promote fairness, justice and prosperity in an increasingly complex global economy.
It’s evolution has not just happened at a single instance:
The consumer constitutes the starting point of economic activities and its role has always been valued by the development of the market.
The development of consumer protection is evolutionary and it’s mechanism is changing from the changing needs of consumer. We can see it’s development in different stages around the world.
In ancient period, consumer protection laws had drawn it’s source from religious texts, judgements of the king and from principles of natural justice. Adulteration of food was treated as an offence and king punishes the wrong doers.
In ancient India, Yajnavalkya framed rules for the protection of the purchaser and provided punishment for malpractice.
The earliest incarnation of consumer protection had been recorded as the implementation of 'Lex Julia de Annona' which was passed by the roman government in or around 50 B.C , To protect the corn trade heavy fines were imposed on anyone directly indulging in stoppage of ship.
The land of hope and glory (U.K) had sowed the seeds of Consumer protection: After the regime of the British , Common laws were applied in many of the countries. The consumer protection was primarily featured on the Contract law. The first ever consumer protection law in England is ‘Sale of goods Act 1893’ which empowers right to remedy for the purchaser against defective goods. Popular legal maxim ‘Caveat Emptor' was prevailed, The Consumer had to verify themselves the quality of the goods they purchased. Only in the presence of gross negligence the seller could have been held liable.
Industrial revolution had paved the way for consumer protection
Industrial revolution introduced novel ways of contracting trade and gave consumers more options. This resulted in the new wave of illegal activities focusing on the deception of consumers and dilution of products to the Consumers, In order to curb the exploitation and to ensure the rights of the consumers a wide range of consumer protection laws were enacted in the global society which mainly concerned on Anti monopolistic and restriction of unfair trade practices.
In America first Anti-trust legislation which came to be known as Sherman Act 1890 was passed which is concerned to prevent the artificial raising of prices by restriction of trade or supply . The federal trade commission Act has setup a new machinery to prohibit unfair methods of competition, The FTC opened its doors on March 16, 1915. The FTC's mission is to protect consumers and promote competition.
In England in order to curb the restrictive trade practices many statutes were passed , among them were ‘ Restrictive practices Enquiries and contracts Act ‘Fair trading Act 1973’. Canada has implemented the Anti trust laws of U.S.A. In Australia, Germany and Belgium many Anti monopolistic statutes were passed between 1950 and 1970.
We, The consumers, are not alone:
The first consumer’s organizations were born in Denmark in 1947 and in Great Britain in 1955 where the Government created the Consumer Council in order to enable consumers to express themselves on issues reserved to producers and traders.
The International Organisation for the Consumers Union, which is popularly known as Consumers International is the first international organisation established in 1960, by national consumer organisations of England, Denmark and U.S.A, who wanted to create cross-border campaign and share the knowledge on consumer protection. Consumers International has over 250 member organisations in 120 countries .
That day is remembered as our day:
On 15 March 1962, former president of U.S.A, Jhon.F.Kennedy, Presented a speech to U.S congress, he extolled 4 basic consumer rights. They are expanded as 8 rights and resented as Charter of Consumers International . Consumers International later proposed the observance of 'World Consumer Rights day’ on march 15 as a honour to the speech of Jhon.F.Kennedy..
WORLD NATIONS have United for consumer protection:From the recommendations of Consumers International, In 1985, U.N.O. has given guidelines for better consumer protection which was first adopted by General Assembly.
These guidelines are mentioned to provide Consumers policies in developing countries. We, The Consumers, are embodied with right to safety, right to information, right to seek redressal, right to consumer education . These rights are inscribed in the guidelines of United Nations, which has become the benchmark for enacting Consumer protection laws in many countries like India, England, Australia. The guidelines of Consumer protection are revised in 2015 which are adopted by General Assembly, which has given guidelines on e-commerce and introduced a chapter on ‘Product liability'. This bill was adopted by U.K and India.
Ralph Nader is the best known consumer advocate of the 20th century believing deeply in the right of American citizens to be treated fairly by big businessmen. He pioneered the consumer movement in America and is well known as ‘Father of Consumer movement'.
‘A Consumer who is aware is protected', for this reason and emphasis initiative is taken by several voluntary organisations across the world, their motive is to strive for consumer protection by conducting campaigns on ‘Consumer education and awareness’. Consumer Action(U.S.A), Which?(U.K), All India Consumer Protection Organisation (India), Consumers Union of Japan are prominent consumer protection organizations in the world.
World countries are striving for the ultimate purpose:By making different enactments world countries are striving for ultimate purpose ,That is Consumer protection. In U.K, The Consumer Rights Act 2015 replacing three major pieces of consumer legislation - the Sale of Goods Act, Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations, and the Supply of Goods and Services Act. It was introduced to simplify, strengthen and modernise the law. Japanese consumer law significantly tends towards the prevention of damages to consumers by extending private law rules. In India, The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 (CPA) is an Act that provides for effective protection of interests of consumers and as such makes provision for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities that help in settlement of consumer disputes and matters connected therewith. Some modifications are adopted like product liability and it is introduced in Consumer rights Bill 2015.
The conclusion and hope for better future:
In this new era of digitalisation, new digital products and services have emerged. There is a need for privacy protection laws regarding to digital products. The increased use of electronic payments , the security of the payments should be ensured . The interest of the Consumer is dominated by manufacturers they are deciding what products should be used by the consumers. The interest of consumer should be ensured. The purpose of law is to ensure better living , Law is a flux which is never static. As the development occurs several problems may arise , Laws must be made to remove the stigma. This is a never ending scenario.