Symposium: Consumer and Contract Law Reform in Asia

Private law and regulatory frameworks impacting on consumer protection are being reformed in many parts of Asia, the world economy’s fastest-growing region. This development is important for Australian exporters and outbound investors, as well as policy-makers engaged over 2016 in a five-yearly review of the Australian Consumer Law. [My Submission to that inquiry is here – Download file]
This symposium on 10 August 2016, hosted by the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the University of Sydney (CAPLUS) with support from the Australian Network for Japanese Law (ANJeL), brings together experts from around the Asian region to outline and compare reform initiatives achieved or underway in consumer law as well as contract law more generally. [On 12 August at UNSW, ANJeL is also supporting a symposium on “Democracy, Pacificism & Constitutional Change: Amending Article 9?”: the draft program is here – Download file.]

Japan is considering a Bill for the first comprehensive reform of the contract law provisions of its Civil Code in over a century, which is also influencing a review of the Consumer Contracts Act 2000. A new statute adds representative actions for damages claims.
In 2013, China amended its 20-year-old consumer rights statute to expand consumer protection and increase liability exposure of businesses, and case law of its highest court has ruled on long-standing controversies in consumer cases. These legal developments are likely to be further consolidated in China’s ongoing civil law codification.
The Indian Parliament debated the Consumer Protection Bill 2015, with a focus on product liability, safe food and new consumer protection agencies for regulation and redress.
In Southeast Asia, ASEAN has worked since 2007 to “trade up” to higher harmonised standards of consumer protection law, to avoid a regulatory “race to the bottom” in conjunction with liberalised trade and investment under the ASEAN Economic Community, implemented from 2016. Most member states now have framework consumer protection laws, providing product safety regulation, and half allow strict liability compensation claims for unsafe goods. Thailand also enacted a US-style class action regime in 2015, in addition to 2008 legislation facilitating individual consumer law claims. Singapore recently enacted “Lemon Law” provisions (inspired by EU law) to facilitate consumer contract claims, and required goods to meet ISO or other specified standards – approximating the “general safety requirement” under Malaysia’s 1999 Consumer Protection Act (also following EU law). Malaysia also added provisions on unfair contract terms to this Act in 2010.
Professor Sakda Thanitcul, Chulalongkorn University
Professor Hiroo Sono, Hokkaido University
Associate Professor Jeannie Paterson, Melbourne University
Professor May Fong Cheong, visiting Professorial Fellow at UNSW Faculty of Law, Adjunct Professor at Multimedia University (Malaysia)
Professor Gail Pearson, Sydney Business School
Professor Bing Ling, Sydney Law School
Professor Luke Nottage, Sydney Law School
Further background:
– Nottage, Luke R. and Thanitcul, Sakda, Economic Integration and Consumer Protection in Southeast Asia: ASEAN Product Liability Law and Safety Regulation (December 13, 2015). ASEAN PRODUCT LIABILITY AND CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY LAW, Winyuchon Publication House, Thailand, 2016; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 15/100:
ASEAN Consumer Protection Digests and Case Studies: A Policy Guide (Volumes 1 and 2, 2014 and 2015, contributions by Luke Nottage, Jeannie Paterson et al):
– Kozuka, Souichirou and Nottage, Luke R., Policy and Politics in Contract Law Reform in Japan (August 12, 2013). THE METHOD AND CULTURE OF COMPARATIVE LAW: ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF MARK VAN HOECKE, M. Adams, D. Heirbaut, eds., Hart Publishing, pp. 235-253, 2014; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 13/86:

Author: Luke Nottage

Prof Luke Nottage (BCA, LLB, PhD VUW, LLM LLD Kyoto) is founding co-director of the Australian Network for Japanese Law (ANJeL), Associate Director (Japan) of the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the University of Sydney (CAPLUS), and Professor of Comparative and Transnational Business Law at Sydney Law School. He specialises in international dispute resolution, foreign investment law, contract and consumer (product safety) law.