THE consumer protection law enacted last year as Law No.8 of 2008 has been referred to as a major victory for consumers.
Earlier, affected consumer had to establish before the court of law the fraud committed by a supplier or a shopkeeper in a transaction that took place between the two parties.
“Prior to the enactment of the law No.8 of 2008, consumer protection in Qatar was provided through certain provisions in civil laws and law No.2 on combating fraud in commercial transactions, enacted in 1999,” said Indian legal expert Nizar Kochery.
However, it is ironical that not many residents are aware of the provisions of the law, which has a bearing on virtually every transaction that takes place between two parties, he said.
With the enactment of a separate law with the sole intention of protecting the consumers, the consumer’s chances of winning a favourable verdict in the event of a dispute with a supplier has improved considerably, said the expert.
Terming the law issued on May 15, 2008 as a more consumer-friendly legal initiative aimed at establishing the rights of the consumer, Kochery said with its enactment the supplier is bound to provide services to the satisfaction of customer.
The consumer protection law defines consumer as any person who obtains a product or service for or without charge for his personal needs or needs of others or who is dealt or contracted with for such product or service.
As per the law, a supplier is referred to as any person who provides and distributes, trades in, sells, exports, imports or is involved in the production or the circulation of the goods and services.
Under the new law the consumer rights cover the right to health and safety in the ordinary use of products or services, right to obtain correct information on products and services, right to file suits on any breach or restriction of his consumer rights, pointed out the legal expert.
He added that the consumer is entitled to fair compensation for any damage to his person or property as a result of buying or using products or receiving services.
As per the provisions of the new law, a supplier is obliged to refund the value of the products or replace or repair without charge if a defect is discovered in the product or the product does not meet standard specifications or its purpose, explained Kochery.
Under the new law, a supplier is prohibited from selling, displaying, offering, promoting or advertising any spoilt or stale (expired or do not conform specifications) products, he said.
Describing, advertising or displaying the product using false or deceptive information would be considered as a serious offence on the part of a supplier.
The suppliers have to indicate clearly on the packaging the type, nature and ingredients of a product. The price has to be marked conspicuously on the product or at the display area, added the lawyer. The law provides for the formation of consumer associations as registered bodies, he added.
The legal expert said suppliers who violated any of the provisions face imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or a fine of between QR5,000 and QR50,000 or both. The penalty shall be doubled for repeat offences.
Under the law, the court may order confiscation/destruction/or closure of the offending business premises, said Kochery.
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