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Consumer Scotland Act 2020

Section 2 – General function

6.Section 2 sets out Consumer Scotland’s general function. As subsection (2) clarifies, the functions set out in section 3 to 6 all fall within the overarching general function which is provided for in subsection (1).

7.Consumer Scotland has the general function of providing consumer advocacy and advice with a view to achieving the outcomes set out in the section. These are:

  • reducing consumer harm in Scotland,

  • increasing the confidence of consumers in Scotland in dealing with businesses supplying goods and services,

  • increasing the extent to which consumer matters are taken into account by public authorities in Scotland,

  • promoting sustainable consumption of natural resources, and other environmentally sustainable practices, in relation to the acquisition, use and disposal of goods by consumers in Scotland, and

  • otherwise advancing inclusion, fairness and prosperity and other aspects of wellbeing in Scotland.

8.“Consumer” and “consumer matters” are defined in sections 24 and 25 respectively.

9.“Harm” is not defined in the Act and therefore has its ordinary meaning. Examples of harm to consumers are wide-ranging and include, but are not limited to, harm that is financial, emotional, environmental or physical. Harm could include consumers paying more for goods or services because of unfair marketing practices, or the impact of plastic consumption in consumer packaging on the environment. It could also include consumers being denied equal access to goods or services without justification on the basis of where they live or other characteristics, such as disability or age. It should be noted that reducing does not necessarily mean eliminating; lessening the level of harm may occur in cases where the harm cannot be removed altogether.

10.Increasing consumer confidence in dealing with businesses could take the form of both Consumer Scotland working to improve business practices, and improving consumer knowledge (and therefore confidence) through the dissemination of advice.

11.The term “natural resources” is not defined in the Act and therefore also takes its ordinary meaning, namely: materials or substances occurring in nature which can be exploited for economic gain. An example of promoting sustainable consumption of natural resources, or other environmentally sustainable practices, could include providing advice and information to consumers on the reuse or recycling of goods.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Scottish Government to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes were introduced in 1999 and accompany all Acts of the Scottish Parliament except those which result from Budget Bills.


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