The Trade Descriptions (Unfair Trade Practices) (Amendment) Ordinance 2012 (the Ordinance), which aims to provide greater protection for consumers by extending its coverage from goods to services and specified unfair trade practices, will come into effect on 19 July 2013.
The Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) is the principal agency responsible for enforcing the Ordinance. Concurrent jurisdiction is conferred on the Communications Authority (CA) to enforce the fair trading sections in the Ordinance in relation to the commercial practices of licensees under the Telecommunications Ordinance and the Broadcasting Ordinance that are directly connected with the provision of telecommunications services or broadcasting services.
Under the amended legislation, the following six types of unscrupulous trade practices will be prohibited:
- Apply false trade descriptions of goods and services;
- Misleading omissions;
- Aggressive commercial practices;
- Bait advertising;
- Bait and switch; and
- Wrongly accepting payment.
In addition, a civil compliance-based mechanism is introduced to encourage compliance by traders and stop identified unfair trade practices expeditiously.
Under the mechanism, the Enforcement Agencies may, with the consent of the Secretary for Justice, accept a trader’s undertaking as an alternative to prosecution. Where necessary, the Enforcement Agencies may also seek injunctions from a court of law to order a trader not to continue or repeat the contravening conduct.
(Source : Information Services Department)