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CPC close to strengthening enforcement legislation

Philip Beneby.

The Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) is close to strengthening the enforcement of the determinations made by its board of commissioners following a complaints resolution process, Chairman of the CPC Philip Beneby said in the CPC’s annual report. 

Beneby said the current legislation governing the CPC’s enforcement of the determinations made on behalf of a complainant “is weak”.

He explained that the amendments in the draft legislation make it possible for cases where a provider does not comply with the determination of the CPC board, to be referred to a court of law for enforcement.

“Additionally, the amendments will allow CPC to initiate court action on its own initiative or on behalf of a complainant, all in the interest of enhanced protection for Bahamian consumers,” Beneby said in the report.

The report, which covers the period April 2017 to March 2018, explains that during that time frame there were 19 open cases, 23 closed or successfully resolved cases and 19 cold cases.

Complaints against providers were various and the categories included financial/banking (eight cases), a law firm (one case), utility, marketing/retail (nine cases), a supplies and equipment provider (one case), a jewelry store (one case), shipping/courier (eight cases), price/rent control (two cases), commercial/industrial (10 cases), auto (10 cases), appliances (four cases) and funeral (three cases).

“CPC disposes of its consumer complaints primarily via mediation efforts between the complainant and the provider,” said Beneby.

“This works well in the majority of cases. Cases are investigated by a case officer. Recommendations are forwarded to the Operations and Complaints Committee for review and final determination. This committee decides whether a case will be pursued any further, closed, designated cold or whether hearing procedures will be initiated.”

Beneby also noted in the report that the CPC has to take into consideration “in an increasingly global environment” consumers who utilize online shopping and the digital marketplace, and ensure they are adequately protected.

“This would naturally involve and include addressing and offering redress for cross-border complaints,” he said.

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