Empowering Consumers: UAE's New Regulations for Fair and Transparent Markets
By: Timaf Yacoub
In the wake of the transformative shifts in consumer behavior in a post-pandemic world, it becomes imperative that the law remains adaptable to address the evolving needs of consumers.Accordingly, the United Arab Emirates announced the release of New Executive Regulations to Federal Law No.15 of 2020 on Consumer Protection on July 14, 2023. These regulations, effective as of October 14, 2023, have been introduced to fill gaps left by its predecessor, Federal Law No. 24 of 2006, providing greater clarity and detailed measures, in line with the objectives outlined in Cabinet Decision No. 66/2023. This article will outline the key changes introduced and their significance in light of the already effective regulations.
Scope of Regulation and Key Changes
Scope of Regulation and Key Changes
While the new regulation introduces numerous amendments, it is essential to clarify that these regulations do not extend to eCommerce activities conducted between UAE customers and unregistered eCommerce businesses. With that in mind, let’s dive into the key changes brought forth.
A. Used, Damaged, and Refurbished Products
The first change of note lies in the regulations’ provisions regarding used, damaged, and refurbished products. The Regulations establish robust standards applicable to the aforementioned categories of goods, significantly enhancing consumer protection. Article 7, in particular, adopts a consumer-centric approach, with a focus on assisting lower-income consumers. It mandates disclosing the product’s condition directly on the item and at the supplier’s business location. This transparency ensures that used, damaged, or refurbished products do not compromise the health and safety of consumers.
B. Competition and Inflation
The new regulations also encompass measures aimed at reducing inflationary pressures and curbing anti-competitive activities in the marketplace. This multifaceted approach addresses various potential issues related to pricing and market access, aligning with the broader strategic intent of fostering an equitable and competitive economic environment. These restrictions are activated in response to supplier actions, such as conspicuously elevating commodity prices, including price specifications, export prohibitions, and sales quotas.
C. Harmful and Prohibited Clauses
Another major change is evidentiary in the regulation’s treatment of harmful and prohibited clauses. Article 34 represents a pivotal development, bringing clarity to the identification of contractual terms detrimental to consumers. Fundamentally, it underlines that any terms designed to relieve providers of their responsibilities to customers are null and invalid, making them legally unenforceable. It is important to highlight that this limitation extends beyond the primary contract, encompassing documents such as invoices and other related forms related to the consumer-supplier relationship.
D. Labeling and Invoicing
In similar light, the newly enacted regulations also impose rigorous duties on product labeling, invoicing, and advertising. Article 5 outlines specific requirements for information display on product packaging or presentation, with three permissible methods: (i) direct price inscriptions on the product (ii) attaching a price label to the product; or (iii) prominently choosing to display the price at the service location
Article 6, in turn, establishes stringent invoicing requirements, including mandated content. Suppliers are obligated to provide consumers with an invoice as well as a warranty document as per the regulations stipulations. Moreover, providers must furnish customers with a payment plan corresponding to the completion of each step when products or services are delivered in phases.
E. After-Sale Parts
The new framework, in contrast to the previous regulations, does not prescribe minimum guarantee periods. Instead, it introduces flexibility through Article 30, allowing for the determination of guarantee durations, terms, and post-sale service pricing exclusively through ministerial decisions. This flexibility extends to various aspects of supplier-consumer relations, as detailed in the following articles.
Article 20 delves into the essential supplier obligations for identifying defects, while Article 21 places the onus on consumers to report defects promptly. Beyond this, Article 13 addresses supplier responsibilities related to the implementation of warranties, and Article 14 specifies their duties concerning spare parts. In a similar vein, Article 16 outlines the intricate processes behind spare part provisioning and maintenance services, with a clear emphasis on ensuring transparency in warranty terms and the provision of contact information.
The implementation of new consumer protection regulations in the UAE is pivotal to navigate the evolving landscape of economic, technological, and market dynamics. With the enactment of Federal Law No. 15 of 2020 on Consumer Protection on October 14, 2023, a noteworthy milestone has been reached in establishing a marketplace characterized by fairness and transparency, placing a paramount emphasis on safeguarding consumer interests.