A Fair Trading Legislation Committee was set up by the Consumers Association of Singapore (CASE) in 1997 to study the possibility of introducing Fair Trading legislation in Singapore to combat unfair trade practices carried out by traders.

The Committee in determining whether Singapore businesses were ready for the Act sought input from various trade organizations, institutes of higher learning, businesses and other concerned parties including consumers. Feedback received indicated that such legislation would help level the playing field for businesses and there was a call for a system of dispute avoidance.

Recently the Trade and Industry Ministry (MTI) favorably received a proposal by Case for a Fair Trading Act. A 10-clause proposal submitted to MTI set out, inter alia, the setting up of a Fair Trading Office and the need to define the powers of a consumer protection advisory panel. Minimum requirements that had to be met by traders in order to be recognised by the Fair Trading Office were also spelt out in the proposal. A guiding principle seems to be the avoidance of disputes.

Adopting this approach Case met up with 80 businesses and industry partners recently to promote an education programme for traders.

It remains to be seen whether the Fair Trading Act will be put in force and the ball is now in the court of the legislators to decide.

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