The Consumer Protection Act [Chapter 14:14] was gazetted as Act No. 5 of 2019 on Tuesday 10th December 2019. The Act came into force as law on that date.
Suppliers and consumers of goods and services should be aware that many provisions of the Act are already operational – such as the Part spelling out Fundamental Consumer Rights and the Part applicable to Electronic Transactions. These provisions apply to most transactions for the supply of goods or services occurring on and after 10th December between suppliers and consumers.
Some transactions are exempted by section 3 – for instance, those in which goods or services are supplied to the State or to large companies and other juristic persons big enough [how big still to be prescribed by the responsible Minister]; these consumers can be considered capable of protecting their own interests when entering into transactions. The protection enjoyed by ordinary consumers, however, will be improved by these provisions.
The Act also makes provision for enforcement of consumer rights in addition to recourse to courts of law, both civil and criminal. These include a Consumer Protection Commission, Consumer Protection Advocacy Groups, provision for other consumer protection organisations and consumer protection officers.
There will inevitably be some delay before these provisions become fully operational because appointments, supplementary statutory instruments and administrative arrangements will be needed. So, the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Hon Nzenza, and her officials still have much to do.