Handbook of Research on International Consumer Law, Second Edition
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Handbook of Research on International Consumer Law, Second Edition

Edited by Geraint Howells, Iain Ramsay and Thomas Wilhelmsson

Consumer law and policy continues to be of great concern to both national and international regulatory bodies, and the second edition of the Handbook of Research on International Consumer Law provides an updated international and comparative analysis of the central legal and policy issues, in both developed and developing economies.
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Chapter 11: Consumers and services of general interest

Peter Rott and Chris Willett


This chapter seeks to identify the key issues that arise across the world in relation to services of general interest, e.g. utility and transport services. It argues that the rules on services of general interest reflect a blend of, on the one hand, ‘consumer protection/market-competition’ values; and, on the other hand, ‘universal service’ values. It highlights the ways in which these agendas are pursued; and argues that there are key limitations in actually achieving the goals aimed at. For example, the consumer protection/market-competition agenda is hindered by limitations on transparency as an effective tool for market discipline. It is also hindered by the lack of a collective damages remedy. The universal service agenda is hindered by limited capacity for enforcement against either suppliers or the State.

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