Friday, 6 May 2011

Summary: session 11c - Empowering legislation: a guide to consumer protection law

A summary by Robin Simpson of:

Session 11c: Empowering legislation: a guide to developing consumer protection law 

Thursday, 5 May, 2011, 2.30pm - 3.30pm
Indrani Thuraisingham, Antonino Serra Cambaceres and Robert Michel, Consumers International 
Chaired by Robin Brown (Australia)

The presentation of CI’s work on CP legislation showed three contrasting methods of work on what the chair Robin Brown described as the daily reality, the hard grind, of CP as opposed to the more high flown notions in circulation during the Congress. A common theme was how CI’s thinking had evolved from the ‘model law’ approach that was prevalent during the 1990s, towards a more targeted and varied approach.

Antonino Sera Cambacerres from the CI Latin America/Caribbean office described a five country study on over-indebtedness Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina and Peru which culminated in  proposals for personal bankruptcy legislation to develop four year plans for  realistic management of household’s debts, with scope for Alternative Dispute Resolution. Such legislation is under active consideration in several countries including some outside the project area such as the Dominican Republic, and already exists in countries as varied as France and Colombia. The research was funded by the Avina Foundation.

Indrani Thuraisingham from the CI office for Asia/Pacific explained how proposals for CP legislation  in her region had developed a checklist approach explicitly drawing upon the UN guidelines for benchmarking draft legislation rather than upon using model legislation as a template. This approach had been used in the ten ASEAN countries and under a project funded by UNIDO in Bangladesh and was currently being used in training for preparation of legislation in Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia that were only now  replacing their ‘antiquated’ legislation based on weights and    measures and price controls. 

Robert Michel from the CI Africa office described the new “Guide to developing CP law” , released for the Congress emerging from a project funded by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa, in Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia. As in Latin America, CI in Africa had evolved a model law during the ‘90s but the ‘template’ approach was being replaced by a checklist drawn up by the author Jami Solli in the light of conditions in Africa. An all embracing single model law for CP needed to be replaced by one which took into account the development of sectoral legislation and regulatory institutions in recent years. The important thing was not whether a single CP law included all aspects of consumer needs but whether all consumer needs were taken into account in the general body or legislation. 

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