Representatives from 23 countries today assembled in Washington, DC for a two-day conference on consumer dispute resolution and redress. The conference is being hosted by the Federal Trade Commission and was organized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Committee on Consumer Policy to exchange views on the effectiveness of approaches to dispute resolution and redress, both domestically and for cross-border transactions. FTC Chairman Deborah Platt Majoras and European Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection Markos Kyprianou delivered keynote speeches to open the event.
While advances in technology have enabled consumers to purchase goods in a global marketplace, the increase in cross-border commerce has complicated consumers’ ability to resolve disputes with foreign merchants or obtain redress when something goes wrong. The workshop, an outgrowth of the 2003 OECD Cross-Border Fraud Guidelines, will address a variety of issues concerning dispute resolution and consumer redress, including:
- Recent developments in alternative dispute resolution (ADR);
- The role of government-facilitated redress in consumer protection policy;
- The role of business in resolving consumer disputes;
- Recent cross-border complaint trends;
- Current procedures for small claims, class actions, and collective claims; and
- Current obstacles to recovering overseas assets and enforcing foreign monetary judgments, as well as ways that increased international cooperation could improve the effectiveness of consumer redress in cross-border cases.
In her remarks, Chairman Majoras discussed the FTC’s efforts to combat cross-border fraud and the agency’s commitment to increased cooperation with its international partners. In particular, Chairman Majoras cited cooperative successes in cross-border cases involving false and misleading health claims, bogus business opportunities, pyramid schemes, foreign lottery and prize offers, and advance-fee loans. She emphasized, “The ability of government to obtain redress for victims of cross-border fraud is especially important to insure trust in the global marketplace.”
The two-day workshop, also supported by the Department of Commerce, brings together experts from governments, businesses, consumer groups, and the academic community from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Portugal, Sweden, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the OECD, and the European Union. The complete agenda is available at http://www.oecd.org/sti/consumer-policy.
The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
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