Perspectives from ISB

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts, it’s our Job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” 

                                                                                                                               -Herbert Hoover


Consumer protection is a vital aspect of maintaining ethical business practices and safeguarding the rights and interests of consumers worldwide. Various countries have implemented diverse laws and regulations to protect consumers from exploitation, fraudulent activities, and the provision of substandard products or services. With the rise of e-commerce websites and the increasing trend of consumers conducting transactions online, it became evident to address the complexities of the digital landscape. Recognising these deficiencies, the Central Government opted to replace the outdated Consumer Protection Act of 1986 with the more comprehensive Consumer Protection Act of 2019. This updated legislation was designed to better accommodate the demands of the digital era and provide enhanced safeguards for consumers engaging in online transactions. The Consumer Protection Act, 2019 addresses a range of challenges faced by consumers in the contemporary marketplace This blog aims to delve into the specifics of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and draw informative comparisons with analogous legislation in different countries scrutinising shed light on the effectiveness of different strategies, providing insights into the evolving landscape of consumer rights and the measures in place to uphold them.

Consumer Protection Act in India

The inception of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) in India dates back to 1986, representing a significant milestone in the country’s legal framework concerning consumer rights. Over the years, the law has undergone amendments aimed at strengthening and expanding the scope of protections afforded to consumers. The CPA serves as a comprehensive framework addressing consumer grievances and plays a crucial role in ensuring product safety and regulating trade practices to maintain fairness in the market.

One of the key features of the Consumer Protection Act is the establishment of Consumer Dispute Redressal Commissions at various levels, including district, state, and national tiers. This multi-tiered structure facilitates the swift resolution of consumer complaints, providing accessible avenues for individuals to seek redressal for issues encountered in their consumer transactions. The existence of these commissions underscores the commitment to ensuring a fair and efficient mechanism for resolving disputes between consumers and sellers.

Comparison with the United States

In the United States, a strong commitment to consumer protection is evident through a robust legal framework comprising various laws and agencies. Two prominent laws in this domain are the Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) and the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA), each addressing distinct aspects of consumer rights. The FTCA grants authority to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to regulate and oversee unfair and deceptive trade practices, while the CPSA focuses on enforcing product safety standards. This comprehensive approach distinguishes the U.S. legal landscape from that of India, showcasing a more intricate system with specialised agencies addressing specific aspects of consumer protection.

A notable example is the case of FTC vs. Volkswagen Group of America, where the FTC alleged that Volkswagen deceived consumers with false advertising related to emissions from its diesel vehicles. This case resulted in a settlement requiring Volkswagen to compensate affected consumers and establish a fund to address the environmental impact of its actions. In contrast to India, where the Consumer Protection Act takes a broad approach to address various consumer issues, the U.S. system stands out for its specialisation. The presence of dedicated agencies like the FTC and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reflects a commitment to addressing specific challenges within their purview, leading to a more comprehensive and targeted approach to consumer protection.

Comparison with the European Union

The European Union (EU) emerges as a leader in consumer protection, employing a comprehensive framework of laws and regulations to ensure the rights and well-being of consumers across member countries. A significant directive in this pursuit is the Consumer Rights Directive, a substantial legal initiative aimed at harmonising consumer protection laws across the EU. Enacted in 2011, this directive seeks to establish a unified and consistent set of rights for consumers engaging in transactions for goods or services, irrespective of their location within the EU.

In a landmark case in 2022, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled in favour of consumers in a dispute related to deceptive advertising practices by a multinational company. This case highlighted the importance of transparency and accuracy in advertising, aligning with the principles embodied in the Consumer Rights Directive. The ECJ’s decision not only affirmed consumer rights but also set a precedent for holding businesses accountable for deceptive marketing practices.

In another crucial ruling, the ECJ addressed cross-border consumer disputes and clarified the territorial framework for resolving such issues within the EU. This decision streamlined legal proceedings for consumers seeking redress in cases involving transactions across different member states, aligning with the overarching goal of harmonisation. These legal developments reinforce the EU’s stance on harmonisation, emphasising a common and robust framework for consumer protection that extends geographical boundaries within the union.

Comparison with Developing Countries

Developing countries face unique challenges in establishing and implementing robust consumer protection laws. Many grapples with issues of inadequate legislation and enforcement mechanisms, leaving consumers vulnerable to various forms of exploitation. Despite these challenges, several developing nations have taken significant strides in enhancing consumer rights, recognising the crucial role such protections play in promoting fair trade practices and safeguarding the interests of their citizens.

Brazil serves as a compelling example of a developing country that has made substantial progress in strengthening consumer rights. In 1990, Brazil introduced the Consumer Protection Code, a landmark legislation addressing vulnerabilities consumers face. Recent judgments within the Brazilian legal system have reinforced the effectiveness of this code. A case involving a major electronics manufacturer underscored the importance of adherence to safety standards, resulting in significant fines and heightened scrutiny to ensure compliance with consumer protection laws.

Similarly, South Africa has committed to enhancing consumer rights through legal measures. In 2009, the country enacted the Consumer Protection Act, a forward-thinking legal framework designed to protect the interests of consumers. This act encompasses many provisions addressing issues ranging from unfair business practices to the quality and safety of goods and services. Despite challenges, developing consumer protection laws in developing countries reflects a growing awareness of the importance of these measures in promoting sustainable and fair economic practices. As these nations continue to refine and strengthen their legal frameworks, recent judgments serve as crucial benchmarks, shaping the trajectory of consumer protection within the context of their unique socio-economic landscapes.


Consumer protection laws vary across countries regarding their effectiveness, approach, and comprehensiveness. While India has made significant efforts to protect consumers through the CPA, it still lags the United States and the EU in terms of the scope and depth of its legislation. Developing countries are increasingly recognising the importance of consumer protection, recognising the importance of consumer protection, and implementing laws to address consumer grievances. Countries must continue to enhance their consumer protection laws to adapt to evolving trade practices and ensure the well-being of their consumers. In the context of protecting consumer rights, future directions for legal research and policy development should focus on the new challenges posed by advanced technologies such as virtual reality, the Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence. Further studies should investigate the effectiveness of existing legal frameworks and enforcement methods in addressing the challenges posed by the digital age and the potential for enhancing coordination and collaboration among different jurisdictions. In the digital age, safeguarding consumer rights is a dynamic and complex area that requires ongoing attention and collaboration from lawmakers, businesses, consumers, and legal professionals.

Author’s Bio: Aparna works at the Bharti Institute of Public Policy as Teaching Assistant cum Analyst. Her area of expertise is corporate law, specifically Mergers and Acquisitions and Competition law. She is also pursuing her Ph.D from Gujarat National Law University Gandhinagar in Competition Law. She has over three years of work experience as an Academic Associate in Strategy area at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, and as a Research Associate at Gujarat National Law University Gandhinagar.

DISCLAIMER : The views expressed in this blog/article are author’s personal.

Leave a Message

Registration isn't required.

By commenting you accept the Privacy Policy