Consumer Protection Act 2019 has given a methodology for effective and efficient administration and settlement of disputes in this digital era. This new Act covers the concept of traditional as well as E-commerce transactions which includes, buying and selling of goods or services including digital products over a digital electronic network. Some key points on mediation are:
- For the purpose of preventing unfair trade practices and to protect the rights and interests of consumers, product liability has been inculcated on manufacturer, service provider and seller, for any claim compensation. Under this Act, every e-commerce entity is required to provide information relating to return, refund, exchange, warranty and guarantee, delivery and shipment, modes of payment, grievance redressal mechanism, payment methods, the security of payment methods, charge-back options, etc., including country of origin, for enabling the consumer to make an informed at the pre-purchase stage on its platform.
- They shall ensure that the grievance officer referred to in sub-rule acknowledges the receipt of any consumer complaint within forty-eight hours and redresses the complaint within one month from the date of receipt of the complaint.
- Advertisements play an important role and are the first point from the where consumers learn about the goods and services. Penalties, imprisonment or prohibition on selling products can be imposed by CCPA on that particular entity.
- A substantial amount of time was required to address and administer the complaints of consumers, however, after the revamping the earlier version, an Alternative dispute resolution mechanism i.e. Mediation has been introduced for effective and efficient settlement of disputes.
- By this, Consumers can file complaints electronically and in consumer commissions that have jurisdiction over the place of their residence. Members of the Central Authority (Central Consumer Protection Authority) upon prior satisfaction, that there exists a scope of the settlement of the dispute with the consent of parties, may refer the parties to mediation and in the event of failure, the complaint shall proceed further.
- However, once the settlement is done through mediation, parties cannot file an appeal against it. Selection of mediation panel to their time of existence everything is covered in the Act. Qualifications, training, the procedure for empanelment for mediators and procedure of mediation as well. To make the mediation procedure pocket friendly all expenses of the mediation including the fee of the mediator (which will not exceed Rs. 2,000 per case) and administrative costs will be borne by the respective State Governments.
- To complete mediation proceedings efficiently a timeline has been provided i.e. Mediation shall stand terminated on expiry of three months from the date of the first appearance unless and until it is extended by the Consumer Commission itself. It needs to be noted that no audio and video recording of the mediation proceedings will be held.