Jurisdiction - Singapore
Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) (Amendment) Bill.

22 February, 2012



The Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) (Amendment) Bill (“Bill”) was introduced in Parliament on 14 February 2012. The Bill seeks to amend the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (“Act”) to give consumers additional rights in relation to “applicable contracts”, ie contracts of sale of goods, contracts for transfer of goods or hire-purchase agreements. The Bill also makes related amendments to the Hire-Purchase Act (“HPA”) and the Road Traffic Act (“RTA”).
The proposed amendments are expected to come into force in September 2012.
Currently, when consumers are saddled with non-conforming goods (ie goods that breach an express term of an applicable contract or any implied terms of satisfactory quality, fitness for purpose or correspondence with description or sample under the Sale of Goods Act, the Supply of Goods Act or the HPA) retailers are not obligated to repair, refund or replace the defective product.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry conducted a public consultation in December 2010 to obtain feedback on the proposed amendments to the Act and the HPA, which included, providing for express provisions on repair and replacement, empowering consumers to actively seek these remedies from retailers and giving greater latitude to the courts when considering what remedies to award to consumers.
Additional consumer rights in respect of non-conforming goods
The proposed amendments provide that, if there are non-conforming goods at the time of delivery, consumers will have the additional rights to require retailers to repair or replace the goods within a reasonable time and without causing significant inconvenience to the consumer. If repair or replacement is impossible, or if the retailer fails to repair or replace the goods within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer, then the consumer may require the retailer to reduce the price paid for the goods or rescind the contract altogether.
There is a rebuttable presumption that goods which do not conform within six months of the date of delivery, already did not conform at the time of delivery, ie it is assumed that the defect existed at the time of delivery. The burden of proof is on the retailer to prove otherwise. Consumers however would not be entitled to any repair or replacement if they caused the damage to the goods.
Consumers have to give retailers a reasonable time to repair or replace the goods required before seeking an alternative remedy. If an agreement cannot be reached between the parties, the consumer may seek legal recourse, starting with the Small Claims Tribunal for claims under $10,000, to the Magistrates’ Court for larger amounts.
Amendments to the HPA
The proposed amendments will also be extended to hire-purchase agreements and will cover both new and used motor vehicles. The HPA will be amended to align the implied terms under the HPA with those under the Sale of Goods Act and the Supply of Goods Act.
Amendments to the RTA
The RTA will also be amended to facilitate the replacement of defective motor vehicles. This will allow the transfer of the certificate of entitlement, the registration and licensing arrangements and related fees and taxes, of a defective motor vehicle to a replacement vehicle.
The proposed changes to the Act are in line with the Government’s efforts to strengthen our consumer protection laws (or “lemon laws”). With the introduction of the amendments, in particular the presumption of non-conformance, businesses dealing with consumer goods would need to give careful consideration on keeping and maintaining proper records or documentation to establish that the defects did not exist at the time of delivery of the goods.
Please click on the following links to access the documents.
1. Public Consultation on Amendments to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act and Hire-Purchase Act
2. Draft Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) (Amendment) Bill
For further information, please contact:
Benjamin Gaw, Partner, Drew & Napier


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