Over the last few years the Maltese Government has boosted different areas within the consumer and competition spheres to ensure that set objectives are met. Several concrete initiatives with the sole aim of safeguarding the interests of the consumer.
Government has legislated and strenghtened the regulatory body in charge of consumer affairs;
- regulated home loans;
- regulated consumer credit;
- introduced legal metrology;
- introduced various standards to safeguard consumers;
- and introduced and made possible class actions (collective proceedings).
Government, as the prime mover of legislation, is doing its part. However, we consumers need to play our part as well. Consumers need to join and support consumer associations because a consumer association has an important role to play and contributions to make. Well-functioning CAs act as whistleblowers. They provide community development, educate, create awareness, provide advice, and help consumers seek redress when needed.
In this regard, the Collective Proceedings Act which shall shortly be introduced to Parliament, will go a long way in facilitating CAs to fulfill this particular role. In fact registered consumer associations will now be able to access courts in order to claim compensation on behalf of consumers following a breach of competition law or consumer law by a private or public undertaking. The registered consumer association may claim damages not only for the members of the association but for all the represented persons who opted-in for the collective proceedings.
I sincerely believe that consumer associations should be strengthened in order to actively fulfill their roles. This is what government is doing.