Pursuant to the enactment of the Myanmar Consumer Protection Law in 2019 (“Law“), the Ministry of Commerce (“Ministry“) under the State Administration Council (“SAC“) issued its implementing regulations by enforcing the Consumer Protection Rules (“CPR“). In this alert, DFDL draws attention to some of the salient features of the CPR.
CONSUMER PROTECTION COMMISSION
The CPR states that the Ministry shall be responsible for forming the Myanmar Consumer Protection Commission (“Commission“), the highest nodal authority under the Law. The total number of Commission members to be appointed by the Ministry cannot exceed 29. The Commission members who are not civil service personnel shall (a) be a resident Myanmar citizen; (b) be mentally and physically healthy in addition to possessing good moral character and reputation; (c) act without discrimination; and (d) have knowledge and expertise in law, economics or consumer protection matters related to goods or services.
The Commission’s term shall be the same as that of the government in force. With the government’s consent, the Chairman of the Commission may appoint consumer protection experts or any person from the Union-level government departments, government organizations or the Consumer Protection Associations as a new Commission member if there is a vacancy or if needing to appoint a new member. The Commission meeting shall be convened at least once a year, and if necessary, special meetings shall be called. If half of the Commission members attend the meeting, it shall be quorate; if not, the meeting shall be adjourned to a subsequent date.
CONSUMER PROTECTION COMMITTEES
The Commission thereupon is tasked with the responsibility of forming these committees:
- Union Territory Consumer Affairs Committee;
- Region or State Consumer Affairs Committee; and
- District Consumer Affairs Committee,
collectively referred to as the “Committees” and individually referred to as “Committee“.
Each committee shall comprise a minimum of five members. The qualification requirements of the members of the respective Committees shall be the same as that of the Commission. The term of the Committees is also the same as that of the government in force. Meetings of the Committees shall be convened quarterly, and special meetings shall be called if necessary. If half of the committee members attend the meeting, it shall be quorate; if not, the meeting shall be adjourned to a subsequent date. Each of the members of the Committees shall:
(a) Avoid engaging in any works, activities or actions that may be harmful or that are assumed to be detrimental to the reputation and functions of the committee;
(b) Pay mutual respect among committee members and have an understanding with each other;
(c) Avoid abusing functional duties and rights of the committee set out in the Law and the CPR;
(d) Prevent the disclosure of discussions and suggestions made at the meeting that should be kept confidential as per the resolution of the meeting of the committee;
(e) Avoid any disclosure regarding administrative actions or appeals before the committee passes any decision or takes action;
(f) Maintain information and documents regarding the committee’s works according to the confidential level; and
(g) Abide by the terms and conditions occasionally prescribed by the committee or Commission.
The powers, functions and duties of the Commission and the respective Committees shall be in accordance with the Law.
DEPARTMENT AND DEPARTMENTAL OFFICES
The Department of Consumer Affairs (“Department“) formed under the Law is tasked with the enforcement functions under the Law. The Department also forms various sub-offices in the Union Territories, Regions and States (“Departmental Offices“).
The Department shall appoint inspectors (“Inspectors“) who may collect samples of goods from the market within their assigned area that they think are hazardous and inspect the same. They may also collect samples of goods from the market outside the designated area with the consent of the relevant departmental office. During the inspection of a complaint, the Inspector must make sure that all particulars provided in the prescribed form are correct, inspect the purchase, use and processes of goods or services and report to the office regarding inspections.
The Inspector must advise the Department to recall and temporarily or permanently suspend the goods or services under the following circumstances:
- Monitoring and observation by the Inspector;
- Inspections, findings, responses and notices of the Department;
- Test results;
- Notice from the relevant Committee;
- Complaints; and
- A prohibition from the Department.
The Inspector must complete the prescribed forms in order to recall or permanently suspend the market distribution of such goods and services. The entrepreneurs may apply to the Department to lift the ban on the distribution of their goods or services when they are safely consumable. The Department may lift the ban and allow the distribution of goods or services again after screening the application. If prohibited goods or services are still available in the market despite the Department’s decision to recall, or temporarily or permanently prohibit them from being distributed, the relevant Departmental Office shall report this to the appropriate Committee to take legal action against the entrepreneur.
COMPLAINTS AND INVESTIGATIONS
Consumers who have suffered any damage or losses may file a complaint with the Department by filing the prescribed form along with the relevant evidence. The Departmental Office that receives the complaint:
a) Shall scrutinize the documentary evidence that is submitted along with the complaint;
b) May request the complainant to provide additional documentary evidence or documents;
c) May assign the duties to the Inspector if any inspections are needed to be conducted regarding the complaint. When the Inspector reports on their inspections, the Departmental Office shall proceed with other necessary activities subject to findings, as may be necessary.
After that, to settle a complaint:
a) The Departmental Office may mediate between the complainant and the entrepreneur to form a consensus on the date and time to conduct settlements;
b) If any side of the party is unable to appear on the prescribed date and time under sub-rule (a) with sufficient reasons to conduct settlements, the Departmental Office may determine the date and time for the second time;
c) The complainant or entrepreneur may appoint an attorney-in-fact, as may be necessary; and
d) If the entrepreneur does not appear at the place that is summoned on the prescribed date and time under sub-rule (b), the Departmental Office shall conduct ex-parte proceedings and decide following the Law.
If the complainant and entrepreneur can reach a mutual agreement/settlement, they shall both sign the prescribed form of the agreement provided in the CPR.
When the Departmental Office passes administrative orders, such orders shall be issued using the prescribed form. The entrepreneur shall undertake the required activities specified by such order within the period specified in such administrative order.
Where any person is not satisfied with the administrative order issued by the Departmental Office, they may file an appeal to the Committee with the following documents:
- A certified copy of the administrative order;
- Original copy of the appeal in the prescribed form; and
- Evidence and relevant documents
If parties are not satisfied with the decision of the Committee, they can file an appeal to the Commission with the documents same as above.
CONSUMER PROTECTION ASSOCIATION: Any person who wishes to form a CPA may have discussions and collaboration with the Department regarding the area in which the person desires to form such an association. The Department will collaborate with the relevant government department and government organization in such establishment and check whether it is in line with existing laws and rules. The concept of the CPA is to carry out awareness campaigns using various methods such as:
- Social media campaigns;
- Educating, lecturing and training;
- Celebrating anniversaries and ceremonies;
- Distribution of books and pamphlets that raise awareness for consumer protection; and
- Circulation of information after conducting research.
Any CPA shall be responsible for the restoration of the consumer’s rights suggested to be breached in a complaint in the following manner:
- Collaborating with the Department in circulating consumer protection-related information;
- It shall request the Department for relevant information and statistics to which the public should have access; and
- It shall not distribute any information which the Department does not approve.
The Department shall closely monitor the establishment of a CPA to be in line with existing laws and rules.
If you have any questions or need assistance on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact us.
The information provided here is for information purposes only, and is not intended to constitute legal advice. Legal advice should be obtained from qualified legal counsel for all specific situations.