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Consumer Protection – Rights of Consumers and Obligations of Suppliers in the UAE

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Published October 2016

Domestic consumer spending by UAE residents and tourists visiting the UAE has been an important segment of the UAE economy.  According to reports by Network International (a payment solutions provider), the overall domestic card (credit and debit) spending in the UAE increased by 13% in the calendar year 2015 in comparison to 2014 and increased by 12% in the first quarter of 2016 when compared with the first quarter of 2015. Keeping in mind the importance of domestic consumer spending, the UAE has looked to recalibrate the rights of consumers on the one hand and that of vendors on the other so as to ensure that consumer protection rights are recognised.

Consumer protection in the UAE is governed by Federal Law No. 24 of 2006 together with Cabinet Resolution No. 12 of 2007 (“Consumer Protection Laws”). While the Consumer Protections Laws have been in place since 2007 and the UAE government has made numerous efforts to educate the consumers of their rights, there continues to be a lack of awareness amongst consumers in relation to their rights under the Consumer Protection Laws and the recourses available to them. This article seeks to highlight the salient provisions of the Consumer Protections Laws relating to the rights of consumers and the obligations of suppliers.

General Rights of Consumers

Some of the key rights granted to consumers under the Consumer Protection Laws are as follows:

  1. Right to be protected from products and services which damage health and safety.
  2. Right to be provided with sufficient facts to aid the consumer in making their purchase and/or consumption decisions.
  3. Right to choose the method in which defective goods will be treated (that is, whether the consumer would like the defective goods to be replaced, repaired or the price of the defective goods to be refunded).
  4. Right to be compensated and obtain a just settlement of claims.

It should be noted that in order to exercise the rights granted under the Consumer Protection Laws against the supplier, the consumer must retain the invoice evidencing the purchase of goods or services by them.

The Consumer Protection Laws clarify that a consumer is not entitled to demand a refund or exchange of items purchased from the supplier in the following scenarios:

  1. The consumer changed their mind about the purchased item.
  2. The item purchased is free from defects.
  3. The item is available elsewhere at a lower price.

However, the Consumer Protection Laws do not prohibit a supplier from granting consumer rights which are more extensive than those provided under the Consumer Protection Laws.

General Obligations of Suppliers

Some of the key obligations which have been placed on a supplier by the Consumer Protection Laws are as follows:

  1. Suppliers are required to exchange or refund the price of goods in the event of any defect being discovered by the consumer.
  2. Suppliers must not display, offer, promote or advertise any goods or services which are adulterated, putrid or misleading and which may damage the interest or health of a consumer upon ordinary use.
  3. Suppliers of services are required to guarantee the service rendered by them for a period of time which is appropriate to the nature of the service being supplied by them.
  4. Suppliers are prohibited from discriminating (whether in quality or price) between consumers when selling goods or services.
  5. Business/ service providers are required to provide consumers with a purchase invoice stating all details relating to the goods or services (including prices, quantities purchased and names of items).

Enforcement of the Consumer Protections Laws

In order to enable enforcement of the Consumer Protection Laws, the Department of Economic Development in Dubai (“DED”) has established a Consumer Protection Division (http://www.consumerrights.ae/en/Pages/default.aspx) which is in charge of issuing further policies including sector specific policies for regulating commercial compliance with the Consumer Protection Laws. Specific policies have been issued by the DED for the vehicles sector, electronics sector, furniture sector and for certain businesses in the services sector (for example, laundry shops, health clubs and restaurants). These policies are applicable in the Emirate of Dubai.

It is the case that if a supplier is unable to or is not willing to solve a consumer’s complaint, then the consumer in the case of the Emirate of Dubai can file an official complaint with the Consumer Protection Division.

If you are interested in discussing the content of this article, please contact: Devvrat Periwal, Associate (dperiwal@ach-legal.com). 

 

Disclaimer:

The legal alert contained above is for informational purposes only and not for the purposes of providing any form of legal advice. You are requested to contact your legal counsel to obtain advice in respect of any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this legal alert does not create any attorney-client relationship between Anjarwalla Collins & Haidermota, Legal Consultants and the user or browser.