Actualidad Chile

Consumer Rights Protection

Bill amending Act 19496 on Consumer Rights Protection

Act 19496 on Consumer Rights Protection regulates relations between suppliers and consumers, establishing which actions may be deemed harmful to consumers and what procedures should apply in this area. It gives powers of oversight to the Spanish national consumer service (Servicio Nacional del Consumidor or SERNAC), which can also impose fines. It also encourages more robust public involvement in consumer-related matters.

The main changes in the law are as follows:

i.        SERNAC will be empowered to enforce the law; impose fines under administrative proceedings resolved by SERNAC’s regional director; lay down general instructions and standards; interpret and apply regulations and, finally, use collective mediation as a preliminary step prior to taking cases to court.

ii.        It stipulates that consumer associations may enter into civil and mercantile contracts to finance their business. This allows them to engage in profit-making activities.

iii.        It increases the amounts of fines for infringing consumer protection legislation.

iv.        It extends the statute of limitations for actions stemming from breaches by suppliers from 6 months to 2 years.

The bill aims at protecting consumer rights, by alloweing SERNAC to apply harsher measures in the event of failures to respect the principles of protecting customers’ interests.