A comparative analysis of a consumer's right to information in Vietnam and Australia
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 19:03 authored by Lam Uyen Lu
The rapid rise in the sums expended by companies on advertising and promotional campaigns, together with the increase in the volume of commercial transactions, have made a customer's right to information an important legal right. In such a context, it is critical to ensure that consumers have a clear and comprehensive right to obtain information as to the attributes of the goods and services they purchase and the terms on which they purchase them. Such a legal right to information both supports the creation of competitive markets and enhances the contractual freedom of consumers in commercial transactions. Besides, the challenge for consumer protection emerged from the reality that only in 2017, the Vietnamese Department of Competition and Consumer Protection (Ministry of Industry and Trade) received and handled over 1,400 complaints and requests of consumers related to violations of consumer rights.1 To accomplish this objective, it is imperative that Vietnam develops an effective legislative framework to protect the consumer's right to information. Furthermore, such a right to information needs to be fortified by effective consumer protections relating to the prohibition of misleading or deceptive conduct and the prohibition of unfair terms in contracts. This issue is particularly significant for Vietnam as Vietnam's consumer laws display a variety of deficiencies in structure and content that potentially reduces their effectiveness. The central objective of this dissertation is to compare the consumer's right to information under the consumer laws of Vietnam with that of Australia in order to analyse the effectiveness of the Vietnamese regulatory structure and propose recommendations for reform. As Australia has a mature legal framework in this area that has been regularly updated to address the evolving commercial landscape, this comparative legal analysis will help identify weaknesses in the Vietnamese law and inform the reform discourse. The thesis will begin by considering an optimal theoretical model of consumer protection that can provide relevant indicia for assessing the effectiveness of consumer law. Building on this theoretical foundation, the thesis will critically analyse provisions in the Vietnamese consumer law on the consumer's right to information, the prohibition against misleading or deceptive conduct and the prohibition against unfair contract terms, and compare such provisions to equivalent terms in the Australian consumer law to design effective reforms to Vietnamese laws in the area. Applying a doctrinal research methodology and a comparative legal method, case law, legislation, and legal theories will be evaluated for the purpose of addressing the central research question. The thesis will identify similarities and differences between Australia's and Vietnam's regulatory frameworks, measure the merit of rules on the topic, and determine the conditions and consequences of such differences. The fundamental differences in the structure of the laws, the design of the definition of consumer generally and the design of regulations on misleading or deceptive conduct and unfair contract term specifically will be identified and analysed. The thesis will conclude by presenting recommendations to reform the Vietnamese consumer law to both better serve the interests of individual consumers and support economic efficiency. As the contemporary economy is rapidly changing in response to evolving commercial and societal developments, it is imperative that laws are amended and refined as necessary to regulate such change. It is hoped that the thesis will contribute to the improvement of Vietnamese consumer law, and inspire comparative studies related to the process of improving the quality of private law system in other developing countries so as to enrich contemporary commercial and legal life.