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COVID-19 and Consumer Protection Issues

WHAT  IS CONSUMER PROTECTION?

Consumer protection is a way to protect people against unfair market practices. Consumer protection measures can come from many areas of law, including legislation, the common law (judge made law), or from clauses in contracts. Consumer protection practices are found in many regulated industries, such as mortgage practices, gas prices, and other goods and services.

contract law

Many contracts, whether for goods and services or other matters, are being impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some contracts provide clauses that will help determine what is to happen in these circumstances. This may include alternate arrangements in times of emergency, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. It is recommended to first check your contract to determine if an appropriate course of action is provided in your contract already.

Parties may agree together to change a contract depending on a change in circumstance. This may include, for example, a change in the expected date to complete a task, delivery of an item, or even payment. Both parties must agree to any such changes free of pressure from anyone else. Parties are free to “renege” on a contract, meaning that they can go back on the contract if they both agree.

One party to a contract cannot force another to accept a new term if it is not part of the original contract or if both sides do not agree to the new term.

covid-19 and fraud

As the COVID-19 Pandemic has progressed, scams involving COVID-19 are becoming apparent. Protect yourself by reviewing what hoaxes, tricks, and scams are on-going as a result of COVID-19, and what are common fraudulent activities. You can visit the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador Service NL website for resources on protecting yourself from fraud here: https://www.gov.nl.ca/snl/consumer/consumer-affairs/

insolvency and bankruptcy

Many people are finding it hard to manage their finances due to unexpected layoffs, loss in revenue, or additional bills as a result of COVID-19.

If you cannot pay all of your debts off with your assets then you are considered “insolvent”. Many people are insolvent, as most people have mortgages that they cannot pay back immediately. This is normal.

If you are unable to maintain your current expenses as a result of COVID-19 you may have to consider bankruptcy to protect yourself from further debt and hardship. If you are considering bankruptcy then you should consider speaking to a licensed insolvency trustee. Licensed insolvency trustees are regulated professionals who can help assess your financial situation. They may be able to negotiate repayment plans, debt restructuring, or help you navigate bankruptcy. Consider getting professional advice from a licensed insolvency trustee found throughout Newfoundland and Labrador.