Get Your Final Year Project Topic and Materials: AN ASSESSMENT OF CONSUMER RIGHTS IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF THE SACHET WATER INDUSTRY

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

AN ASSESSMENT OF CONSUMER RIGHTS IN NIGERIA: A CASE STUDY OF THE SACHET WATER INDUSTRY

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ABSTRACT

The indispensability of safe drinking water to man cannot be over-emphasized. This research has traversed the allowable length and breadth of the applicable laws, regulations, as well as international and national policy frameworks on safe drinking water. It has also examined cases and legal principles that should be applied to instances where consumers’ rights to safe drinking water, especially sachet water arise. However, acceptable and affordable as the innovation may seem, its associated downside is the proliferation of contaminated sachet water, the consumption of which has often brought upon the consumers the toll of harm, diseases and malignancies. This situation is compounded by the obvious inability of the regulatory agencies of government to effectively monitor and control this anomaly. More so, is the dilemma of the consumers to know which field of law they can seek their legal redress, either in contract, or in tort, or in the law of crimes, where they may be harmed or injured by the consumption of contaminated, untreated or over-treated sachet water. The lack of sufficient awareness of their rights as well as the regulatory and enforcement mandates of the statutory watchdogs like the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC),Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) puts a bitter icing on the cake of this malaise. The methodology used in this research is doctrinal as it dwelt essentially on the primary sources such as statutes, case law; and secondary sources such as academic publications, regulations, administrative policy documents, and other relevant materials sourced from the internet. The work is summed up with findings to the effect that government regulation in this field is not holistic as to provide the desired protection to consumers. Also, the conservative attitude of the courts that does not easily allow for res ipsa loquitur to be successfully pleaded in product liability cases by the plaintiff, but rather insists on the plaintiff proving the negligence or fault of the manufacturer/defendant was analysed. The work recommends that the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) should take advantage of the enforcement provisions of the NAFDAC Act, 2004, in order to restrict the registration of operators of sachet water production and distribution to only qualified, capable and verifiable applicants. NAFDAC should ensure that the labeling and use instruction on sachet water be written with translation into the local language of the area of coverage while the Consumer Protection Council of Nigeria should increase its public enlightenment functions in order to bring to the notice of Nigerians the awareness of its existence and its functions. Also, it is recommended that the Consumer Protection Act should be amended to go beyond a requirement of safety certification by manufacturers, to holding them liable if as a result of no fault of the consumer, harm is caused by the use of such products. It is further recommended that the fines for product failure in the Act be increased significantly to deter malpractice. Finally, it is recommended that Nigerian courts should adopt and apply legal principles like res ipsa loquitur and strict liability that should attenuate the burden of proof of negligence on the consumer in product liability cases, especially in the area of packaged sachet water.

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