The Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA) is the result of years of relentless advocating by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE). What we see today is a testimony to the continued dedication of countless consumer advocates and volunteers over the years.
The driving force behind CASE is our firm belief that we need fair trading legislation to promote a fairer and more equitable marketplace. The law will protect both consumers and traders by making the playing field more level. In 1979, the late Mr Ivan Baptist, then President of CASE, first urged the government to consider a fair trading legislation in the Parliament.
The push for this Act began with the observable increase in the number of errant traders and unethical business practices over the years. As a consumer organisation, CASE has come across numerous instances where consumers sought our help when they fell victim to unscrupulous business tactics. These included high-pressure selling tactics and aggressive door-to-door salespersons, amongst others.
We want to create a fair trading environment for consumers and businesses alike.
The CPFTA took effect on 1 March 2004. Since then, consumers who have been at the receiving end of unfair practices have been empowered to take civil action for themselves. The Act sets out a list of specific unfair trade practices and empowers them to seek civil remedies. It is the responsibility of the business to prove that it did not commit the unfair practice. However, businesses that commit unfair trade practices will not be subject to criminal sanction as the CPFTA is not a criminal Act.
Since 15 April 2009, the CPFTA was amended to cover financial products and services. This and other amendments were made to widen the scope of protection offered to consumers and facilitate a fairer trading environment for both consumers and businesses. The legislation protects consumers, without adding onerous burden to businesses and costs.
Consumers and businesses are urged to understand the Law better, so as to reap the most benefits from it. To find out more about the CPFTA, download the brochure here
The Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (“Act”) was amended in 2016 to strengthen the measures that may be taken against errant retailers who persist in unfair practices. Under the amended Act, SPRING Singapore (SPRING) will be the administering agency for the CPFTA and will have investigative and enforcement powers to take timely actions against recalcitrant retailers.
CASE and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) remain the first points of contact for local consumers and tourists respectively to handle complaints. Consumers who wish to lodge an online complaint with CASE can do so here.
The amended CPFTA also includes refinements to the definitions of unfair practices in the Second Schedule of the CPFTA. Some of these were from feedback provided by CASE, such as clarifying that it is an unfair practice to refuse the consumer’s request for a copy of the applicable agreement if none had been previously given.
Paragraph 24 of the Second Schedule of the Act
Based on consumers’ feedback that businesses sometimes do not provide a copy of a contract to the consumers (when requested by consumers), CASE recommended to the Ministry of Trade and Industry during the public consultation for the Act to make such a practice an unfair practice. This recommendation was incorporated in paragraph 24 of the Second Schedule of the Act.
Paragraph 24 of the Second Schedule of the Act states:-
"where an applicable agreement has been entered into in writing and a copy of the applicable agreement has not been given to the consumer, refusing to give the consumer a copy of the applicable agreement upon the consumer’s request."
What is an applicable agreement?
An "applicable agreement" means an agreement between a supplier and a consumer for the supply of goods or services which expressly provides that -
1a) the goods or services will not be supplied or, in the case of an agreement to supply goods or services over a period of time, will not begin to be supplied, to the consumer until the price, or part of the price, of the goods or services has been paid; and
(b) the price of the goods or services is to be paid by 2 or more instalments.
(2) In sub-paragraph (1)(b), any deposit paid by the consumer for the goods or services is treated as an instalment.
Consumers may find applicable agreement in renovation contracts, foreign domestic workers employment agencies contract, purchase of motor cars, and other contracts which provides for part payment.
Clauses which permit the business to withhold the provision of goods or services until part or full payment is made will fall within the definition of an applicable agreement.
CASE’s mission is to champion consumers’ interest and promote fair trading. At law, CASE notes that a party that signs its acceptance to the terms and conditions of a contract is treated as bound by their signature. As such, CASE recommended that suppliers should be required to provide the contract to the consumers to allow consumers to take reference to their rights and obligations under the contract as this is in line with our mission. At the same time, CASE would like to urge all consumers to carefully read the terms and conditions of the contract before signing.
To assist businesses to comply with their obligations under the CPFTA while protecting consumers through the use of model contracts, consumers are also encouraged to shop from CaseTrust accredited businesses. This is because businesses accredited under selective CaseTrust accreditation schemes are required to utilize the CASE-Approved Agreement template with their customers, as part of their accreditation requirement.
Businesses may refer to CASE’s model contract at here
CaseTrust’s standards are maintained in an unbiased manner, and that its accredited businesses are kept abreast of consumer trends and new developments in the industry. The CaseTrust Department was formed as a Secretariat in 1999 under the initiative of CASE. It was an accreditation scheme targeting the service and retail industry to spearhead businesses towards excellence by means of adopting fair business practices.
A shop which displays the CaseTrust Logo signifies fairness and honesty in its dealings with consumers.
Interested to find out more about CaseTrust, click here
The Lemon Law came into effect on 1 September 2012. Provisions of the Lemon Law have been added to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act, with related amendments to the Hire Purchase Act and Road Traffic Act.
The Lemon Law is a consumer protection law that provides remedies against defective goods (colloquially known as “lemons”), which fail to conform to the contract at the time of delivery, e.g. do not meet standards of quality and performance, especially after repeated repair. Under the Lemon Law, consumers may require the business to repair, replace, reduce the price of the goods or perform a refund if the goods are found to be defective. For defects that occurred within a period of six months from the date of delivery, it is presumed that the goods failed to conform to the implied condition of satisfactory quality at the date of delivery. However, Lemon Law does not cover individuals who contract in a business capacity or on behalf of a company. In this regard, private-hire cars are not covered under Lemon Law.
To find out more about the Lemon Law and how it will affect you as a consumer or business owner, refer to the following:
The Ministry of Trade & Industry’s webpage
Frequently asked questions.
For more information on the CPFTA and the Lemon Law, you can also purchase our Fair Trading & You Booklet
at our CASE office at 170 Ghim Moh Road, Ulu Pandan Community Building for $3.21 (include GST).