The Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) is a Consumer Protection law that allows consumers affected by unethical or unfair business conduct to file financial complaints and claims involving unfair retail practices in the Civil Courts and Small Claims Tribunals.
For example, this could take place in the following situations:
- If a company supplier goods uses unfair practices to persuade the consumer to purchase its goods e.g. by using misrepresentation or false advertising, or failing to advertise important information to the customer.
- If a company supplying goods provides goods that are substandard and faulty (i.e. goods that do not comply with the specifications stated in the contract).
If a consumer has been affected by unfair business practices, he can submit a claim for damages of up to $30,000. If the claim actually involves more than $30,000, then he can choose to abandon the claim for the amount exceeding the prescribed limit of $30,000. He consumer can also alternatively apply to obtain a Court Order to demand that the business stop its unfair practice (also known as an injunction).
If a consumer has been affected by buying goods that are substandard and faulty (i.e. goods that do not comply with the specifications stated in the contract), the supplier will be given reasonable time to repair or replace the faulty goods. If the supplier fails to do this, then the consumer can apply to the Court to Order that the supplier must repair or replace the faulty goods (also known as specific performance).
If the supplier fails to comply with this Order, this will amount to contempt of Court and can be separately penalised.
Alternatively, the supplier can pay a lower amount for the for the goods or rescind (i.e. cancel) the contract for the sale of the goods instead of repairing or replacing the faulty goods.
There are special rules under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) (Cancellation of Contracts) Regulations 2009 that apply to “regulated contracts”, which are direct sales contracts, a long-term holiday product contracts, a time-share contracts or time-share related contracts.
For disputes or claims regarding these regulated contracts, the consumer must submit his claim within 2 years from the date of the transaction or 2 years from the time he became aware of the supplier’s unfair practice.
The Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) is an organisation that looks after Consumer Protection and handles disputes between consumers and retailers over consumer goods and services.
If you have been affected by a retailer’s unfair business practice, you can submit a claim to CASE who will then try to mediate the dispute between you and the retailer.
At the mediation, both consumer and retailer will present to the Mediator their cases, evidence and reasons in support of their case. If the Mediation is successful and both consumer and retailer come to a settlement of their dispute and disagreement, a Mediation / Settlement Agreement will be signed by both parties and this will be legally-binding on them. If the Mediation is unsuccessful, then the consumer can consider submitting his claim through the Small Claims Tribunal instead.