Getting the Definition of “Consumer” Right: Worrying About the Smaller Ones in Fiji

Chapter
Part of the The World of Small States book series (WSS, volume 3)

Abstract

This paper argues that the definition of consumer in Fiji should be broadened to include the micro and small enterprises (MSEs). A survey conducted by the National Centre for Small and Micro Enterprises Development in Fiji provides a deep insight into the operation of MSEs in Fiji. The survey findings reveal that MSEs are vulnerable and could be easily exploited by larger companies in the market. One of the ways in which MSEs could be protected is by providing them with the consumer-level protection. This paper argues that MSEs are eligible for consumer protection because like consumers, they also have poor bargaining power, less expertise in making an informed purchasing decision and significant difficulties in seeking remedies against the large suppliers. The paper further contends that the definition of consumer must not only be widened in the general consumer protection law but in the consumer credit legislation and with respect to unfair contract terms too. The arguments against the proposal to broaden the definition are that all businesses, regardless of their size, should be treated the same, there are other relevant laws for the protection of business-consumers and that it would put extra burden on the suppliers, many of whom are small businesses themselves. The paper ends with a draft definition of consumer which includes domestic consumers, micro businesses, whether purchasing for business use or re-sale and small businesses purchasing for business consumption.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Munro LeysSuvaFiji

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