An area of the law which is becoming increasingly important is consumer protection. For better or worse, one of the largest roles which ordinary people have in the modern economy is as a consumer and the preferences of consumers are taken into account in the greatest detail by companies when they are trying to identify what products to produce or how to improve existing products. Sucessful companies in the contemporary economic system live and die by their reputation with customers and their ability to engage customers, impress them with their products and services and obtain repeat business from satisfied customers. This is a source of not only a legal obligation to keep customers happy but an essential economic driver of a business. However, there are also some businesses and companies which simply do not obey this rule which is essential to the sucess of many businesses.
When a company has breached its general obligations to a consumer, such as the obligation to provide a product of merchantible quality or the obligation to ensure that a product is not dangerous. There are other obligations on companies and buisness which arise simply out of the fact that they are in business such as the obligation not to engage in conduct which is misleading or deceptive or conduct which is likely to mislead or deceive under s.52 of the Trade Practices Act 1972 (Cth). Also, many products are now sold with warranties which mean that companies can be sued for if they breach the conditions of the warranty. Many industries also have an ombudsm who oversees the actions of the industry. For instance, there is a community services ombudsman, a financial services ombudsman, an insurance ombudsman, a telecommunications ombudsman, a commonwealth ombudsmand and all of these ombudsman’s departments have a responsbility to investigate the members of industries who fail to meet the required standards within that industry. Also, in alsmost every state there is a state government department which overseas consumer protection law. In New South Wales, for example, there is the department of Fair Trading which enforces the Fair Trading Act in New South Wales. If you have a query about consumer protection law please do not hesitate to contact us.