New regime for the protection of consumer rights and interests in Macau SAR
João Nuno Riquito and Bruno Almeida of Riquito Advogados explain the new consumer’s regulation that comes into force on January 1 2022
On July 12 2021, Law 9/2021 was published in the Macau SAR’s Official Gazette and will enter into force on January 1 2022. Whilst revoking Law 12/88/M, it sets up the new regime for the protection of the consumer’s rights and interests, with the aim to be “a step forward in clarifying the rights and duties in the transactions between consumers and businesses and in reducing consumer’s conflicts, in view of the creation of a fair, impartial and transparent consumer environment”.
The new law applies to both the sale of goods and the provision of services in Macau SAR. Expressly excluded from the scope of application of the new law are contractual relationships in the fields of gambling, gaming and betting, healthcare, education, legal, accounting, auditing and finance.
Among others, consumers have the right to receive an array of information (e.g. as to the features of the goods, terms and conditions of respective quality guarantee, price and payment methods, or post-sale assistance), the right to products and services of quality and the right to judicial assistance and accessible justice. The duty to inform applies not only to the seller – or service provider – but to all operators in the chain of supply (including producers, distributors and importers).
Shall the consumer be handed a defective product, he/she may exercise the corresponding rights (for repair or change of the product, for reduction of the price or to terminate the contract) within one year from delivery of the product, but notice shall be given to the seller within the 30 days after detecting the defect and judicial action started within six months therefrom.
The new law prohibits and sanctions commercial practices it defines as unfair, deceitful or aggressive, as it happens when the enterprise falsely claims to be accredited by a consumer’s agency, deceives the consumer as to the producer of the goods, or ignores the consumer’s request not to be contacted for marketing at his/her domicile. Sanctions for acting in such manner may range from MOP20,000 (approximately $2,493) to MOP60,000.
Some special forms of contracting are expressly regulated, as is distance selling (such is the case e-commerce, provided that the enterprise operates within the Macau SAR and that part of the transaction takes place in the territory – either the delivery or the expedition of the goods, or the provision of the service), selling outside the business establishment (where buyer physically meets the seller, but outside the latter’s establishment) and pre-payment selling (where payment is made in advance of the delivery of the desired product).
Consumers contracting on either of these forms have special information rights and can freely terminate the contracts, without reason, within seven days. This, however, does not apply, e.g. to the sale and purchase or lease of real estate, the provision of financial services and others.
The new law privileges mediation and arbitration to resolve consumer disputes and does set mandatory arbitration for the conflicts in provision of public services defined as essential (such as water and electricity supply).
João Nuno Riquito
Managing partner, Riquito Advogados
Senior associate, Riquito Advogados