When I am not thinking about food, cooking food or eating food, I provide advice on the regulation of financial services in Canada, particularly the consumer protection laws. One of my mentors when I first began practice approached me in my first year (first week in fact!) of practice and suggested I develop a niche in consumer protection law. Another mentor also strongly encouraged developing a specialty. Prior to this, my familiarity with the area was from the perspective of a consumer. I authored the first edition of The Annotated Ontario Consumer Protection Act in 2015 and the third edition is going into publication this fall. It is an annual text.
Consumer protection is more than simply laws in place to protect consumers. It impacts you. Whether you are a person buying goods or services or you are the person providing the goods or services. Consumer protection laws exist to protect both consumers and businesses.
From the perspective of the consumer, you care about:
- being protected from unfair practices e.g. misleading advertising or defective products
- understanding your rights and responsibilities
- remedies available to you to address issues
From the business perspective, you care about complying with consumer protection laws because:
- customer satisfaction will lead to increased profits and a larger client base
- by complying with the laws you avoid governmental intervention, as to changes in law or restrictions on business activities/practices
- you avoid having a negative reputation or negatively impacting your brand
The majority of the world’s countries have consumer protection laws in place that address various matters, including lending, advertising, and product safety.
In Canada the consumer protection laws are federal and provincial. The provincial consumer protection laws are not entirely harmonized.
The purpose of this blog is to address consumer law in Canada (and perhaps on occasion a comparative analysis as to other jurisdictions) including recent developments.