Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by Geraint Howells, Iain Ramsay, Thomas Wihelmsson and David Kraft
Peter Spiller and Kate Tokeley 1. Introduction Laws alone do not guarantee that all consumers who are misled or who purchase defective products will obtain redress. In addition to the existence of substantive consumer protection laws, consumers need the ability to access the rights that these laws enshrine. This chapter examines the barriers that prevent consumers from obtaining redress and considers a range of strategies for improving consumers’ access to justice. For various reasons, obtaining redress is a particular concern in the area of consumer disputes. Addressing the problems of consumer redress is therefore an important part of developing an effective legal framework for the protection of consumers. There is little point in offering consumers legal protections in principle that are inaccessible in practice. The ability of consumers to gain redress is not only of importance to the individual consumers concerned but can also be for the greater public good. Protecting consumers’ rights makes suppliers and manufacturers accountable for misleading conduct or for selling defective products. Such protection may also have a deterrent effect against future breaches of consumers’ rights. 2. Barriers to consumers obtaining redress Consumers face several barriers to obtaining redress in a traditional courtbased legal system.1 In the first instance, the consumer may feel intimidated 1 See The Right Honourable Lord Woolf (1996), Access to Justice: Final Report, London: HMSO. Lord Woolf’s report on access to justice identified cost, delay and complexity as the three main problems facing the civil justice system of England and Wales. Although...
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