The Trade Descriptions (Unfair Trade Practices) (Amendment) Ordinance, which recently came into effect on 19 July 2013, has been revised and improved by expanding its coverage from goods to services, with the emphasis on banning misleading sales practices to provide greater protection for consumers. This text provides a summary of the key changes to the laws and highlights the enhanced protection of consumers against other unseen and unknown illegal trade practices.
This summary guide includes:
How retailers must now use price regulated terms such as “sale”, “original price” and “reduced price” accurately and judiciously to avoid misleading consumers;
Expansion of the definition of “trade description” in respect of goods to mean any indication, direct or indirect, and by whatever means given, with respect to any goods or parts of goods such as price indication;
Extension of the coverage of the Ordinance to prohibit false trade descriptions in respect of services made in consumer transactions, and to define “services” under any consumer contract;
Creation of new offences on such practices as: (i) misleading omissions, (ii) aggressive commercial practices, (iii) bait advertising, (iv) bait-and-switch, and (v) wrongly accepting payment;
Introduction of a civil compliance-based enforcement mechanism in addition to criminal sanctions to promote adherence to the Ordinance; and
Reproduction of the Commissioner of Customs and Excise and the Communications Authority’s Enforcement Guidelines for the fair trading.