On 31 March 2022, the Ministry of Commerce published for consultation a draft Consumer Protection Law (“Draft Law“) on the Public Consultation Platform, which will close for comments on 15 May 2022. The Draft Law is intended to be administered by a yet to be defined competent governmental authority, presumably a department within the Ministry of Commerce (“Competent Authority”).
The scope of the Draft Law is limited to business to consumer (B2C) transactions, as it would govern relationships between natural persons who seek to obtain a product or a service for the purpose of satisfying their personal needs and that of their families (“Consumers“) and entities or persons who carry out a commercial, industrial or professional activity and provide products or services by any means possible including electronic means (“Economic Operators“) in Saudi Arabia. Economic Operators would have one year from the date the Draft Law comes into force to comply with its provisions. The Draft Law would repeal both the Anti-Commercial Fraud Law and the E-Commerce Law as it incorporates some provisions and concepts from each of these laws.
The Draft Law’s overarching aims are to strike a fair balance between the rights and obligations of both Consumers and Economic Operators and protect Consumers from unfair business practices and harmful products and services.
The Draft Law touches on a variety of Consumer-related topics, including:
- basic consumer rights
- competitions / contests
- product guarantees, warranties and spare parts
- sale of used products
We summarize some of these topics below.
Basic rights of Consumers
The Draft Law grants Consumers certain basic rights, which notably include the right to:
- access to essential products and services;
- protection from threats to health and safety;
- clear, accurate and sufficient information necessary for them to make an informed decision regarding the product or service they choose (for example, all information must be presented in at least the Arabic language and prices must be expressed in Saudi Riyals inclusive of taxes, fees and costs);
- awareness and education of the economic, social and environmental impacts of their choices;
- preservation of their privacy and personal data (which is comprehensively addressed by a separate new legislation, the Personal Data Protection Law);
- access to dispute settlement means if their rights have been breached;
- fair compensation for damages resulting from the product or service; and
- form consumer associations.