1. Trade Competition and Consumer Protection Proclamation No. 813/2013 (DOWNLOAD)
The Ethiopian government has enacted the Trade Competition and Consumer Protection Proclamation No. 813/2013 (hereinafter the Proclamation) in order to protect consumers from misleading market conducts, and harmful goods and services. The law seeks to protect consumers by preventing the circulation of goods and services that could adversely affect the health and safety of consumers and ensuring their suitability for human consumption. It also tries to create the possibility that consumers get goods and services commensurate to the price they pay. Accordingly, part three of the proclamation is dedicated for the protection of consumers and distribution of goods and services.
As per article 14 of the proclamation, consumers have a wide range of rights. Consumers have the right to ‘get sufficient and accurate information or explanation as to quality and types of goods or services they purchase’. They also have the rights to purchase goods or services on their own free will, not to be obliged to buy, and to be received humbly and respectfully without any abuse from the business person. Moreover, consumers can claim compensation or related rights for any damage they incur from purchasing or using goods or services. Such compensation/related rights can be claimed from persons who are involved in the supply of the goods or services as manufacturer, importer, wholesaler, retailer, or any other way. Apparently, these parties are jointly and severally liable for damages caused by their products.
The proclamation also protects consumers by imposing various duties on the business person. The business person should display the price of goods and services, in accordance with article 15 of the proclamation. The business person also has the duty to affix labels on the goods he sales on a separate paper. By virtue of article 16 of the proclamation, the label should indicate the name of the good, country of manufacturing or origin, quantity and quality of the good, safety measures to be considered during usage, manufacturing and expiry date, address of the manufacturer, packer, and importer and so forth. Other obligations of the business person include to issue receipts, display trade name at an obvert place, and refrain from announcing misleading or false advertisements.
The proclamation establishes bodies with a regulatory power to enforce the rights of consumers, duties of the business person and other provisions. Accordingly, there are three major organs. The first is the Trade Competition and Consumers Protection Authority which is an autonomous federal government body having its own legal personality. The authority has, among others, the powers to take appropriate measures to develop public awareness on the provisions of the proclamation, announce banned goods by the government or at an international level, ban advertisement of goods or services which are inconsistent with public health and safety requirements, protect consumers from unfair trade practices, and establish procedure to resolve disputes between traders and consumers. The authority has also the mandate to conduct investigations on the above matters, institute an action, and subsequently render decisions via its adjudicative benches.
The second organ is the Federal Trade Competition and Consumer Protection Appellate Tribunal which is authorized to entertain appeals emanating from the decisions of the Authority or its adjudicative benches. The third organ is the Regional Consumers Protection Judicial Organ and Appellate Tribunal. As stipulated in Article 34 of the proclamation, regions can establish consumer’s protection judicial organ and appellate tribunal in their respective regions.
Finally, the proclamation imposes administrative and criminal penalties on persons or entities that violate the provisions of the proclamation. Most of these penalties are fines but some circumstances may result in imprisonment.