Consumer Law and Policy Relating to Change of Circumstances Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, COVID-19 - Consumer Law Research Group
Journal of Consumer Policy (2020) 43(3), DOI: 10.1007/s10603-020-09463-z
20 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2020 Last revised: 20 Aug 2020
Date Written: August 18, 2020
An unprecedented number of consumer problems has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, not least with regard to refunds of prepayments and the ability of consumers to keep up their monthly payments under loan and rental agreements. Based on a notion of societal force majeure sketched in this paper, we propose guiding principles in respect of the introduction of moratoria on recurring payments, the use of refunds or vouchers in respect of prepayments, and associated enforcement challenges. This analysis draws on experiences around the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic has swept around the world. As well as huge suffering and high numbers of fatalities, it has had a heavy negative economic impact. Millions of consumers around the world are suffering financially, because many have lost their regular income, and many are fighting to obtain refunds of prepayments from struggling businesses whilst having to service loans and rental payments. In this contribution, we, a research group on consumer law with a global reach, offer an initial assessment of the legal difficulties consumers face. We argue for a principles-based way forward and evaluate a range of global initiatives taken thus far.
Keywords: Consumer law, COVID-19, Moratoria, Refunds, Guiding principles
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