Consumer redress; an enquiry into individual mechanisms providing access to justice for consumers

Swann, Michael A. (1994) Consumer redress; an enquiry into individual mechanisms providing access to justice for consumers. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Concern has been voiced many times in the past over the enforcement difficulties in relation to consumer claims. This has focused on the formal and forbidding nature of court proceedings and the general public's reluctance to use the County Court systems for the enforcement of their rights. Since the Consumer Council's indictment of the County Court process in 1970 and the subsequent creation of the Small Claims Court, attempts have been made to tinker with the system, the latest being the changes made under the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990. The study makes a detailed review of the development of the court followed by an evaluation of its worth in the consumer redress arena.
It has been suggested that improvements to the court structure alone are not enough to encourage private individuals to litigate. As a result, alternative schemes of redress have been developed. The two most important of these alternative schemes are the Private Ombudsman Schemes and the Trade Arbitration Schemes. The study proceeds to review these schemes concentrating on three issues:
(i) structure and procedures,
(ii) motive for creation,
(iii) effectiveness in respect of consumer dispute resolution.
Unlike most other research in the area, the project looks at the various schemes collectively. One limitation to past reviews is that they only looked at the schemes in isolation. For this reason the schemes escaped comparative criticism. One must remember that whilst a case may not be adequately dealt with under a particular scheme, it may be so under another. Only by reviewing the schemes together can a true picture of consumer redress in England and Wales be obtained.

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