The common law and statute

The rights of consumers have been protected by laws for centuries. These laws have established a variety of legal forms, which including criminal law, tort, and contract, to achieve their objectives. In addition to those laws numerous other provisions have the effects of protecting the consumer, which specify consumer protection as their primary concern. For example, during the prosecution of fraud, protecting property, or facilitating litigation.

In general, the civil law assists the consumer by imposing certain obligations on manufacturers and suppliers of goods and services and by restricting attempts to exclude or cut down these obligations or the remedies available on breach. (Cartwright, 2001) It should be kept in mind that here is no universally agreed definition of the term 'consumer'. Although a number of statutes, both criminal and civil, attempt to define it for their own purposes. One example of such a definition is found in section 20( 6) of the Consumer Protection Act 1987, which states:

'Consumer' (a) In relation to any goods, means any person who might wish to be supplied with the goods for his own private use or consumption; (b) In relation to any services or facilities, means any person who might wish to be provided with the services or facilities otherwise than for the purposes of any business of his; and (c) In relation to any accommodation, means any person who might wish to occupy the accommodation otherwise than for the purposes of any business of his.

It is not deniable that there are varies definitions of 'consumer', but, here, we simply assume that 'consumer' means that a person who acquires goods and services for personal or household to develop further discussion, because the focus of this paper is not propose to offer a prescriptive definition of the consumer, but to investigate whether or not the common law and statute make it too easy for buyers to reject goods. Consumerism The basic rules of tort and contract law which apply today and which are the current basis of 'consumer protection' law were introduced in England.

Along with the development of globalization, the emergence of consumerism is a movement which aims to give consumers some equality of power. In particular, consumerism redress against those forces who supply consumers with goods and services, which they have been convinced to buy on the basis of a choice, but in fact their choices may be informed on an artificial basis for sellers' interests. The objectives of the movement are probably best approached by wide education of consumers in the community.

Although law plays a small part of educative role, consumer education is not the prime function of law which protects the consumer. (Goldring, Maher, McKeough, & Pearson, 1998) 'Free market' When examining why we intervene in the market to protect consumers, it is necessary to start with the so-called 'perfect market'. This is helpful even if we do not believe that such a system is achievable in reality. Free market economic theory states that if the characteristics of a perfect market could be created, there would be no need for regulation.

(Cartwright, 2001) In one of the leading studies, Rationales for Intervention in the Consumer Market Place, Ramsay identifies the characteristics of the perfect market as follows: (i) There are numerous buyers and sellers in the market, such that the activities of any one economic actor will have only a minimal impact on the output or price of the market; (ii) There is free entry into and exit from the market; (iii) The commodity sold in the market is homogeneous; that is, essentially the same product is sold by each seller in the particular market;

(iv) All economic actors in the market have perfect information about the nature and value of the commodities traded; (v) All the costs of producing the commodity are borne by the producer and all the benefits of a commodity accrue to the consumer -that is, there are no externalities. 1 For those who support the idea of the perfect market, the markets are seen as efficient and effective tools for maximizing consumer welfare and interests. The expressions 'free market economics' and 'free market economists' are used in this context for want of a better term. It is recognized that this is not a perfectly homogeneous group.

The perfect market only exists where the requirements have been expressed in Ramsay's list are met, although we may still have competitive markets where not all those requirements are present. If there are numerous buyers and sellers competing with each other, it is faire that no individual trader should be able to influence price by varying output. 18 The simple market rule has been cleared that there is free entry into and exit from the market, which means that anyone who wishes to enter a particular market may do so, and also anyone who does not respond to or meet consumer's demand will be forced to leave the market.

In this sense, if the choices of consumers are fully meet their true wishes and real demands, it is very important that to make sure the consumers are having perfect information. In actual markets, we can be sure that only the parties related to a transaction are affected by that transaction, and so the price of the transaction reflects its value to these particular parties. Free market economics tells us that when all these 'free-market' requirements are met, then there is no need for the state to intervene. (Howell, & Weatherill, 2005) However, that does not mean that the state has no role in the free market.

This approach, which is associated primarily with the Chicago School, makes assumptions about the ways in which markets operate. 2 First, it assumes that individuals are rational maximisers of their own satisfaction. In other words, they know what they want, and will make logical, consistent choices in accordance with their wishes. Secondly, it assumes that by their choices, consumers influence producers and so dictate the way that the market operates. By making choices in accordance with their wishes, consumers send signals to traders.

If traders do not respond to these wishes they will lose custom and, ultimately, be forced to exit the market. The consumer is therefore sovereign. (Cartwright, 2001) However, as many people advocated that 'free market' is not realistic in practice. Currently, the markets in most countries are restricted by state laws, statutes, and even cultures. All consumers are equally faced with the same array of the power of suppliers. Individual consumers are relatively weak; they are individuals, while suppliers and manufacturers of goods and services these days more often than not a large corporations, even multi-national corporations.

This power relationship often causes consumers to feel awed and intimidated when they wish to obtain resource against a supplier or manufacturer from whom they have acquired something which does not meet their expectations. The barriers facing them are immense. (Goldring, Maher, McKeough, & Pearson, 1998) Thus to talk about a 'free market' of equal individuals in this phenomenon is nonsense. In very few cases at all, the consumer can be said that they are equal to the supplier or the manufacturer. Besides, under the control of mass media by the suppliers and manufacturers, consumers can hardly get fully genuine information.

Therefore, it makes little sense to assert that consumers are inevitably the best judges of their own wants and needs. Markets are seldom, if ever, 'free', not because that freedom is limited by government activity, but because of the activities of business organizations, especially by the powerful corporations. Information is power and consumers rarely have the opportunity to get the same information as suppliers and manufacturers. They cannot therefore compete as equal in the market. (Lowe & Woodroffe, 2004)