New consumer protection law in Saudi Arabia

New consumer protection law in Saudi Arabia

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The culture of consumer protection is fairly prevalent in Saudi Arabia, as the Kingdom works to consolidate consumer protection concepts through trading controls and regulations. 
On the other hand, civil society institutions also support this concept through their awareness campaigns.
Recently, a draft of the consumer protection law was issued, covering both the concept of consumer rights and the concept of operator’s rights. The law will ensure a successful experience for both parties, thus positively impacting the economy in the Kingdom.
This draft law aims to achieve a fair balance in rights and duties between the economic operator and consumers, protecting consumers from harmful, defective or unsafe products and services, disseminating and promoting a culture of consumer rights. It also educates consumers about their rights and duties and encourages a sustainable consumption culture.
This law guarantees several rights to consumers. In particular, consumers have the right to obtain their basic needed products and services, and be protected from risks to their life, health and safety, as well having the correct information necessary to make decisions about selecting a product or service according to their needs.
The law also guarantees several other rights to consumers, including maintaining their privacy and protecting their personal data, and providing appropriate and effective means for settling consumer disputes. This is in addition to providing for the filing of lawsuits when consumers’ rights are violated, damaged or restricted with quick and easy procedures, and obtaining fair compensation for damages due to their purchase, acquisition or use of a product or a service.
Because information is a key element in determining consumers’ decisions, the law stipulates that information provided to the consumer must be clear, accurate, sufficient and not misleading. Such information provided to the consumer shall also be written on advertisements, packaging, labels, warnings, instructions for use, or any other means appropriate to their content.
In addition, the law prohibits unfair commercial practices that include advertising products or services that are not available and cannot be provided, or claiming that a product or service will be available for a limited period and under certain conditions, or a limited quantity, without sufficient stock to meet the expected demand.
The law also prohibits:
•Reducing the product’s life cycle or negatively affecting its efficiency after a certain period of time has passed to increase its consumption without justification, publishing or exploiting editorial material in any media to promote a product or service without clearly and legibly indicating that this material is for advertising, using improper behavior or abusive language in such ads.
•Taking advantage of the weakness or ignorance of consumers or any condition or circumstance that affects the validity of their assessment in order to influence their decision about the product or the service.
 •Threatening to take measures that may not be taken legally.
•Imposing burdensome or unjustified conditions or restrictions on consumers’ desire to exercise their right, using the phrase: “The sold goods are not returned or exchanged” or any similar formula, at the headquarters of the operator or on its documents, papers or advertisements.
•Obtaining and saving personal consumer data or using it in any form without obtaining consent.
•Make offers directly to the consumer by telephone, electronic means, mail, websites, applications or other means of remote communication unless required by a contractual obligation or the consumer has expressly agreed to this.
•Providing false comments or opinions or misrepresenting consumers’ comments and opinions to promote a product or a service, or assigning someone else to do so.
Our next article will discuss the controls of advertisements, competitions, and discounts that are of great interest to the consumer and govern many of their shopping habits.

Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif

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