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Protecting consumers in the digital era

It is important to consider the protection of the consumer as many persons now engage suppliers in a different jurisdiction. This was posited by a senior official from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat during the Barbados Fair Trading Commission’s (FTC) annual lecture series held last evening, 8 March, 2018 at the Accra Beach Hotel & Spa in Barbados.

Mr. Philip McClauren, Deputy Programme Manager, CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), was a co-presenter on this year’s topic – Protecting Consumers in the Digital Era. He made the point that with so many CARICOM consumers purchasing products on-line, there was the question of whose laws would be used to protect the buyer.

Mr. McClauren said that consumers must ensure that the supplier provided on-line, pre-contract information such as cancellation rights, delivery and performance deadline, jurisdiction and enforcement of consumer legislation.

He outlined the work CARICOM was doing to protect the consumer, such as the creation of model bills for distance selling and consumer protection in response to the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. This Treaty is an Agreement among CARICOM Member States which was revised to include the CARICOM Single Market and Economy.

Mr. McClauren also made note of the CARICOM Rapid Alert System for the Exchange of Information on Dangerous Non-Food Consumer Goods (CARREX). This on-line portal can be accessed via www.carrex.caricom.org where complaints can be launched and sent cross-border as well.

Mr. McClauren served for 13 years as the Director of Consumer Affairs in Saint Lucia before joining the CSME Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat which is based Barbados.

The other presenter at the lecture series was Attorney-at-Law and University of the West Indies Lecturer, Mrs. Ayanna Young-Marshall. A lively discussion ensued after the presentations as participants sought to have concerns clarified.

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