Consumer and Trading Law: Text, Cases, and Materials

Consumer and Trading Law: Text, Cases, and Materials

Consumer and Trading Law: Text, Cases, and Materials

Consumer and Trading Law: Text, Cases, and Materials

Synopsis

This book presents material drawn from a broad range of UK sources. It includes comparative material from jurisdictions in the US, Commonwealth, and Europe.

Excerpt

The aims of this introductory chapter are to provide a brief description of the ambit of consumer law and an assessment of its current objectives. It also aims to indicate where a particular topic is examined in more detail in this book and to highlight the ever-increasing importance of the European dimension. In the light of the present abundance of texts and articles on the law of consumer protection it can easily be overlooked, particularly by those studying the subject for the first time, that it is only within the last 20 years that the subject has attained any degree of academic recognition, at least within the United Kingdom. This was in part a reflection of the paucity of relevant case law, and to a great extent, statute law, until the late 1960s.

In retrospect, the publication of the Final Report of the Molony Committee on Consumer Protection (Cmnd 1781, July 1962), which in turn was mainly responsible for the enactment of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968, was a landmark. This Committee also reviewed such central matters as the difficulties faced by consumers in obtaining effective redress through the courts and the unsatisfactory character of manufacturers' guarantees (see paras 403, 415). In terms of reform the Committee favoured evolution, rather than revolution, as paragraph 16 made clear:

16. We received a great weight of criticism of the existing system of consumer protection, accompanied by suggestions for its replacement. Although we observed a measure of justification, as well as unanimity, in the criticisms, we found that some of the suggestions were extravagant in the extreme--extravagant in terms of money cost as well as conception. The consumer, unlike some classes with claims on public bounty, is everybody all the time. The consumer is the taxpayer, and we saw small merit in creating an elaborate new system to assist him in one capacity when he would have to pay for it in the other. In so far as any increased cost fell on industry, recoupment from the consumer would be no less inevitable. Further, in considering bold suggestions for reshaping consumer protection arrangements it was necessary, in our opinion, not merely to balance the money cost, but also the degree of interference with production and distribution methods, against the benefits to the consumer claimed by the proponents of reform. These factors have weighed with us in favouring more stringent legal provisions in aid of the consumer rather than an extensive protective machinery, operating administratively at considerable cost.

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