“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
This line by David Foster Wallace, pulled out from his famous speech ‘This Is Water‘, reminds one of some areas of law as well.
Often while considering their career options, students think about practice areas such as company law, arbitration, international law, but often miss on the cases which can be the building block of their legal practice.
Consumer Law is one such area.
It is one area of law which we interact with every day, yet not pay much attention to it. Every time you order from Swiggy or buy something from your local store, every time you engage someone to perform a service, this law applies.
How is the law changing?
The Consumer Protection Act (“Act”) has been in the news consistently in the past few years. The 2019 amendment brought with itself many changes to bring the Act in tune with the present times. Now the Act clearly stipulates e-commerce transactions as consumer transactions. There is a new mechanism for the e-filing of disputes.
There is also an increased penalty for misleading advertisements under the 2019 Act, which makes it more likely for these matters to be taken up. Even efforts to resolve disputes through ADR have been mentioned in the Act.
The new amendment introduces the concept of “product liability”, where whoever is involved with the selling of the product would be held liable. The definition of unfair trade practices has also been expanded.
A lot is happening in this area, and knowing it can give you a leg up in your legal practice.
What you should watch out for
The number of cases filed every year is increasing. The assistance of lawyers is required even before a case is filed.
E-commerce and other businesses have come under much more scrutiny. With laws specifically amended to deal with this emerging technology – with easier filing norms, increased liability, and a focus on ADR – means the legislature is putting the pedal on giving teeth to the law.
As these businesses grow, so will the requirement of people with knowledge about consumer law. That means a direct need for more consumer lawyers.
A thing to note about consumer cases is that they range across both small-sized and big-sized matters. Thus, even if you are starting out, you can get smaller matters to learn the ropes and then go and work with the big matters.
Is it only for lawyers?
One of the standout aspects of consumer forums is people representing themselves. Thus, it is a smart move for you to know your rights as a consumer.
The knowledge comes in handy when dealing with small situations like an airline losing your luggage in transit. A website not offering you a refund properly. It is important to ensure that you do not get the short end of the stick when dealing with big companies.
Even consumers can file cases themselves. They can file a case at their place of work or residence, rather than the earlier practice of filing it at the location of the producer. This, along with e-filing and virtual hearings, makes it easy for consumers to take it up themselves, without legal training.
Note: Even when you approach a lawyer, you are being given a ‘service’ as per the Act. Thus, it’s better to be mindful of this law, even when you seek any legal assistance.
How to develop consumer law knowledge?
We have prepared a month-long course that will take you through the theory and practice of consumer law. This course stands at a unique intersection of consumer law, technology law, and litigation. We will also teach, in-depth, the procedure of how these cases are filed and fought, what strategy to use, and what are the things to be aware of.
Check out our free resource to get a flavor of the course. Download the free resource here
And once you are satisfied, register!
So the next time someone asks you ‘How’s the water?‘ you know if it’s satisfactory or deficient.
If you have a story to share, or wish to write for us, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.