In 2014 Oman promulgated, by Royal Decree No. 66/2014, the new Consumer Protection Law setting out the general requirements for consumer protection and aiming to combat monopolistic behavior towards consumers.
Furthermore, in March 2017 the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (hereinafter, the “PACP”) issued Decision No. 77/2017 (hereinafter, the “Regulation”) aimed to supplement the above mentioned law on Consumer Protection. These bylaws intend to provide for interpretation and will serve as a tool to even greater consumer protection. The Regulation is divided into five sections consisting of 52 articles in total including not only the rights of consumers but also the obligations of the supplier. But what does the Omani Consumer Protection entail in reality? Here are five things you might not know about the Omani Consumer Law:
Firstly, the Regulation, rather self-evidently, strengthens the position of the consumer in commercial situations. If a good falling within the list provided for in appendix 2 of the Regulation fails to meet the purpose for which the good is used, is damaged or if it does not conform to the standards set out in the good specification the consumer is entitled to certain remedies. The consumer has the right to repair the good free of charge, to exchange it or as a last resort measure have the contract rescinded and thus return the good to the supplier. These remedies do not come without any restrictions however, the consumer must be able to provide the purchase receipt as well as proving that any flaws are not caused by the consumer him/her-self.
If we however briefly look at consumer protection legislation around the world it is possible to see certain similarities with, for instance, the European Consumer Protection Legislation. However, we can also see that the European Legislation provides for a much more extensive protection consisting of for example presumptions that damage in goods that are displayed within six months after the purchase are presumed to be damages allocated to the supplier, see further in Directive 1999/44/EC.
Secondly, the consumer is not only entitled to the remedies as stipulated in the paragraph above, but is as well entitled to compensation for damages as a result of purchasing a faulty good in the event the consumer returns the good or exchanges it for recovering its value. This remedy is although also subject to the pre-conditions mentioned in the paragraph above regarding presentation of the receipt and to not have contributed to the damage. It is stipulated in the Regulation that the supplier is obliged to provide the consumer with a written invoice as well as which details should be included therein.
Thirdly, both the Consumer Protection Law and the Regulation prohibits anti-competition measures thus giving the consumer a more beneficial commercial position. Suppliers are by this legislation prohibited from engaging in monopolization of goods as well as all attempts of controlling the market, that might lead to harmful consequences of the consumers’ interest. Further competition measures include the prohibition of so called “price/-fixing” meaning that suppliers are prohibited from coordinating prices and the prohibition of cartels.
Fourthly, the Regulation imposes several obligations on the supplier with regard to a duty of information. The supplier is for instance required to immediately report safety threats to the consumers health and property that arises due to a faulty good. The supplier is obliged to inform both the consumer and the PACP immediately after discovery of the flaw. The supplier is furthermore required to withdraw the faulty good from the market.
Lastly, the Regulation issued in 2017 provides the PACP with a large margin of discretion and empowers the authority to continuously investigate and ascertain that consumer rights are being protected. In chapter 4 of the 2014 Consumer Protection Law the competences of the PACP are set out giving the authority to, at all times when deemed necessary, investigate commercial activities. Furthermore, the PACP is in pursuant to article 46 of the Consumer Protection authorized to impose administrative penalties for acts in violation of the law or further regulations. The competences of the authority have now additionally been clarified within the new Regulation.
As for some concluding remarks the Omani consumer has indeed been given extended rights, which might be regarded as an incentive for foreign investments in Oman. However, without disregarding the fact that this is a major step in the right way for consumer protection in Oman there is more work to be done to be able to reach higher standards. The Omani consumer is now backed by several pieces of legislation and an authority to enforce these rights.