New Consumer Protection Law: strengthening consumers' rights against counterfeits

Myanmar

On March 14 2014 the President of Myanmar, Mr Thein Sein, approved the country’s first Consumer Protection Law, which is now in force. The Consumer Protection Law contains 12 chapters and 31 sections addressing consumers’ rights and manufacturers’ liabilities, and sets a Committee for Consumer Protection to handle disputes between them.

Section 2(h) of the new law provides for consumers’ rights to seek claims, through administrative actions, against “deceiving goods or services”. ‘Deceiving’ means “giving a false statement to mislead consumers on the nature of goods or services”. Section 10 further adds that manufacturers shall not mislead consumers in the course of trading in the following situations:

(a)  giving a false statement that goods or services are conform to quality standards;

(b)  […]

(c)  selling other goods as the ones offered for sale by way of substitution;

(d)  […]

(e)  […]

(f)  selling goods by mixing them with same goods of lower quality; selling goods by mixing them with different goods unsuitable for consumption

The maximum penalty is imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine not exceeding Kt5 million (approximately $5,000).  

While waiting for the approval by the Parliament of the long-awaited trademark law, the Consumer Protection Law provides new and interesting means to combat counterfeit and substandard products and services through consumer-based actions. Brand owners should consider including means of action under the Consumer Protection Law when setting out their enforcement strategies in Myanmar. Although it is said that the Committee for Consumer Protection will be established and include the minister of commerce and representatives of other relevant ministries, as well as representatives of civil society and experts, there is concern that its establishment may take some time, which will then delay the enforcement of the Consumer Protection Law.   

Fabrice Mattei and Moe Mynn Thu, Rouse Myanmar

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