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The Consumer Protection Act

  • Entrihub chats to Ashley Curran, founder of Curran Attorneys. Ashley talks about Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

    Question 1: What is the Consumer Protection Act (CPA)?

    Ashley: Okay, so your Consumer Protection Act applies to businesses that in the ordinary course of their business are either selling goods to consumers; which are individuals you and I, or our rendering services to a consumer. It really is just to protect those consumer rights against unfair marketing, defective products, fixed-term agreements, all aspects related to consumer affairs.

    Question 2: What are SME owners responsibility regarding the CPA?

    Ashley: One of the most important introductions to the Consumer Protection Act for business owners really is to make sure that the terms and conditions are drafted in plain language. No legal jargon, no legalese, no 20-page terms and conditions, and that a consumer cannot understand. Those have been done away with and there are consequences associated with that if a consumer doesn't understand your contracts. It's very important that if you're selling goods or rendering services that your contracts are drafted in plain language.

    Question 3: What are rules around fixed term contracts?

    Ashley: Fixed-term contracts have now been limited to a period of 24 months. Another very important thing for entrepreneurs to bear in mind is that a consumer can cancel a fixed-term contract by giving 20-day business notice. There isn't that security in terms of fixed-term contracts that they used to be. If entrepreneurs in the business of providing goods the Consumer Protection Act has introduced a number of provisions regarding liabilities for latent defects, defective products. Consumers are given a number of rights in terms of what they can demand if goods don't meet these standards. They're entitled to a refund for defective goods to be replaced. It really has revolutionized the aspect of what we used to call the footsteps clause, where goods were sold as-is.

    Question 4: Can we charge penalty fees for cancellation?

    Ashley: The entrepreneur is certainly entitled to charge what we call a reasonable cancellation fee. It's not a kind of no consequences associated with it principle. There are costs associated with the cancellation. They just need to be what we call reasonable in relation to the industry that the cancellation has taken place.

    Question 5: What are the consequences for not complying with the CPA?

    Ashley: There's a number of tribunals that have been set up in terms of the Consumer Protection Act; where consumers have the right of request to approach these tribunals and lodge a complaint. Whether or not they're working as a different question. The Consumer Protection Act at the moment does have it's the case of no all bark but no bite, unfortunately. At a tribunal level, these complaints aren't being dealt with fast enough so strictly speaking the entrepreneurs or the business owners aren't really feeling the consequences of it except for maybe instances of being reported on hello Peter and social media disgruntled graphs about Bart services.