, Volume 35, Issue 2, pp 165-173,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 16 Feb 2012

The Innovative Nature of Consumer Law

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Birth of a New Discipline

On 15 March 2012, Consumer Law will celebrate its 50th birthday. On that day in 1962, President John F. Kennedy famously read his Special Message on Protecting the Consumer Interest to the American Congress. The Message, which begins with the oft-quoted words “Consumers, by definition, include us all,” enumerates four basic consumer rights:

  1. The right to safety—to be protected against the marketing of goods which are hazardous to health or life.

  2. The right to be informed—to be protected against fraudulent, deceitful, or grossly misleading information, advertising, labelling, or other practices, and to be given the facts he needs to make an informed choice.

  3. The right to choose—to be assured, wherever possible, access to a variety of products and services at competitive prices; and in those industries in which competition is not workable and Government regulation is substituted, an assurance of satisfactory quality and service at fair prices.


Keynote lecture, ius commune conference, Leuven, 25 November 2010. The author is grateful to JCP’s anonymous external examiner for his or her useful comments.