What Consumer Protection laws are there in Singapore?
The Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act or CPFTA provides the legal rules that allow consumers aggrieved by unfair retail practices to have recourse to a Civil Claim in the Courts or the Small Claims Tribunals (dependent on their jurisdictional limits).
The purpose of the CPFTA is to eliminate unethical, unfair and improper businesses conduct by giving consumers protection in 2 main types of situations:
- Where the supplier of goods uses unfair practices to induce the consumer. This could include misrepresentation or an omission to state important information.
- Where the supplier of goods provides goods that don’t conform to the applicable contract (faulty goods).
In each of these scenarios, the CPFTA entitles a consumer to ask for compensation or corrective measure from a Court.
For unfair practices, a consumer can make a claim for damages so long as the amount doesn’t exceed $30,000.
The consumer may also choose to pursue a claim concurrently to the CPFTA and abandon the claim for any amount that is in excess of the specified limit.
An alternative solution available under the CPFTA is an injunction or declaration from a Court that can prohibit the supplier from continuing to carry out the unfair practice.
For the supply of goods that don’t conform to the contract, the supplier is given a reasonable time to schedule or replace the goods. If the supplier fails to comply the consumer can ask for assistance from the Court for specific performance of the supplier’s responsibilities. Specific performance is a discretionary remedy that allows the Court to compel them to carry out a specific course of action. Failure to follow this order will amount to contempt of Court. As an alternative to fixing or replacing the goods, the supplier may reduce the amount to be paid for the goods or rescind the contract for the sale of the goods.
If you have a dispute with a retailer over consumer goods and services that you have not been able to resolve, you can approach CASE for advice and assistance. CASE handles consumer-to-business disputes. In mediation, you’ll have full opportunity to put forward your side of the story. You must, therefore, provide full details of the unfair practice in chronological order. You may find it useful to write down the details and practice discussing them with a friend before the mediation.
So there you have it, some basic information on the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act and how it works.