The Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority (MCCAA) organised a half-day conference on World Consumer Rights Day, themed ‘Strengthening consumers’ rights in today’s dynamic markets’.
The conference discussed how the new legal framework – The Modernisation Directive – better equips consumers to face the challenges they encounter in today’s evolving markets.
In her address, Consumer Rights Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli highlighted how important it is that consumer protection legislation evolves in sync with consumers’ buying behaviour and needs. She emphasised the importance of education and awareness when new regulations come into force.
“Consumers need to be aware that the new consumer protection rules impose new additional information requirements on online markets, enhance their rights when subscribing to ‘free’ digital services, enact new requirements for ranking and search results, and also regulate online consumer reviews that expressly prohibit fake reviews or any form of manipulation of consumer reviews.”
Consumer rights shadow minister Rebekah Borg remarked: “As the world moves towards an increasingly digital future, the traditional way of discussing consumer rights is quickly becoming outdated. By combining strong legislation with effective education, we can create a safer and more equitable environment for all consumers.”
The traditional way of discussing consumer rights is quickly becoming outdated
MCCAA chairperson Helga Pizzuto said March 15 has become an annual international event where global awareness is raised about consumer rights and needs. The conference brought together important stakeholders to discuss the recent legislative changes in consumer law and how the new rules better safeguard consumers’ interests.
To better understand consumer behaviour and psychology, academics from the University of Malta and Anglia Ruskin University, UK, discussed internet-based consumer behaviour and the way marketing is changing to reach and engage with consumers online.
The impact of the new rules on both consumers and businesses was debated in a panel discussion involving representatives of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, the Malta Chamber of SMEs, the MCCAA and a legal expert on consumer affairs.
The discussion also focused on the current state of play of local businesses in relation to the digital transformation and how the local business community is adapting its operations to remain competitive in today’s dynamic markets. The panel also discussed the adequacy of the new legislation and the challenges it presents to regulators from a legal enforcement perspective.
The conference provided a platform for stakeholders to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the new legal framework and collaborate to ensure that consumers are adequately protected in the evolving markets.
Odette Vella is director, Information and Research Directorate, MCCAA.
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