Consumer Protection Litigation
Consumer protection is the usage of safeguarding buyers of goods and services, and the public, upon unfair methods in the marketplace. Consumer protection actions are often established by law. Such laws are intended to stop businesses from contracting in fraud or defined unfair practices to get an advantage over competitors or to deceive consumers. They may also grant extra protection for the general public which may be affected by a product (or its production) even when they are not the direct purchaser or consumer of that goods.
Consumer protection is connected to the idea of consumer rights and to the creation of consumer organizations, which support consumers to make better choices in the marketplace and pursue complaints against businesses. Entities that improve consumer protection include government organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission in the United States.
A consumer is described as someone who receives goods or services for direct use or ownership rather than for resale or use in production and manufacturing. Consumer interests can also help consumers, compatible with economic efficiency, but this topic is treated in competition law. Consumer protection can also be asserted via non-government companies and individuals as consumer activism.
- Who is a Consumer (Section 2(d))-
The definition of consumer under the Consumer Protection Act 1986 section 2(d) would include:
- A person who has purchased goods with payment,
- Any person other than the buyer who utilizes the goods with the consent of the buyer,
- A person who uses any services for remuneration,
- Any other person who uses the services with the consent of the hirer of services’
- The receiver of services.
Any person who receives the goods for resale or commercial objectives is not a consumer. But a person acquiring goods for self-employment is a consumer.
Accompanying persons can file a complaint under the Act:
- Any optional consumer association registered under the Companies Act, 1956 or under any other law for the time being in authority, or
- The Central Government or any State Government,
- One or more consumers, where numerous consumers are having the same interest.
A complaint on behalf of the public which consists of unidentifiable customers cannot be filed under the Act. An unregistered organization cannot file a complaint under the Act.
- Complaint (section 2(c))-
A complaint must include any of the subsequent declarations:
- An illegal trade practice or a conditional trade practice has been adopted by any trader;
- The goods purchased by him or allowed to be bought by him endure from one or more errors;
- The services used or availed to suffer from a loss in any esteem;
- A trader has required for the goods specified in the complaint a price in excess of the price fixed by or under any law for the time being in power or displayed on the goods or any package including such goods.
- Goods that will be dangerous to life and safety when used are being proposed for sale to the public in infringement of the terms of any law for the time being in force demanding traders to display knowledge in regard to the contents, manner, and impact of the use of such goods.
- Limitation Period for filing Complaint-
A complaint should be filed at the quickest but not later than two years from the date on which the cause of action arose. However, the Court may consider the complaint after a period of 2 years if the complainant is able to convince the court that there was enough cause for the delay.
- The procedure of filing a suit by consumers-
- Submit a legal complaint under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986. You need not choose a lawyer for filing the lawsuit. Fill this complaint information form and submit it to the commission on plain paper, consider the details of the complainant and the opposing party. Otherwise, you can discuss consumer grievance redressal forums which also help consumers in filing and completing petition at unnecessary charges. One such non-governmental organisation is the International Consumer Rights Protection Council.
- The consumer should file the objection in the district forum which has under its jurisdiction the other party's house or office of profit or the area where the project is placed.
- You have to submit the fee by a demand draft. The consumer forum reflects difference jurisdiction to receive complaint:
- If the request is for less than Rs 20 lakh, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum will listen to the case. If the claim is for more than Rs 20 lakh but less than Rs 1 crore, the State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission will consider the complaint.
- If the claim is more than Rs. 1 crore, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission will take to the case.
- Fee structure of the complaints before the forums-
For district forums-
- Up to Rs 1 lakh==The fee is Rs 100
- Between Rs 1-5 lakh== The fee is Rs 200
- Between Rs 5-10 lakh==The fee is Rs 400
- Above Rs 10 lakh and up to Rs 20 lakh==The fee is Rs 500
For state forums-
- Above Rs 20 lakh but less than Rs 50 lakh== The fee is Rs 2,000
- Above Rs 50 lakh and up to Rs 1 crore==The fee is Rs 4,000
For the National Commission (Appeal)-
- An Appeal from the order of the District Forum endures to the State Commission,
- Against the order of the State Commission to the National Commission
- And against the order of the National Commission to the Supreme Court.
- All appeals are to be filed within 30 days of the order appealed against and are to be completed by a verified copy of the order.
(The period of 30 days is counted not from the date of order but from the date when the order is delivered to the appellant)
Benefits for consumers-
- Consumers are preserved against the marketing of goods and services which are dangerous to life and assets.
- Consumer independence in the selection of goods is confirmed.
- Consumers are allowed to quick, simple, and inexpensive remedies under the act.
- The redressal method is possible within comfortable reach to the consumers.
- The powers under the act are made accountable for the assurance of certain rights. They are the right to safety, right to choose, right to be heard and justice to consumer education. This is allowing legislation and is aimed to be growing.
- The punishments under the Act helps to check random trade practices in India. Also, it helps in joint trust in the destruction of goods and services in a consumption-based market like India.
- The Act has proposed provisions for product responsibility. If the product is under fault, then the service provider has to repay the consumer. A manufacturer or a service provider has to compensate a consumer if the goods/services cause harm or damage to the consumer. This might be due to a manufacturing fault or poor service. This provides for compensation to a damaged consumer.