Consumer protection against unfair contract terms : in the light of the Jordanian Civil Code and the English regulations on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts 1999
The purpose of this Thesis is to test the ability of Jordanian law to protect consumers against unfair contract terms. In doing this, a comparison is made between the Jordanian Civil Code (hereafter the JCC) and the English Regulations on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts 1999 (hereafter the Regulations). The writer believes that examining the effectiveness of a law enacted to challenge unfair terms in consumer contracts entails that three main areas should be treated: the scope of protection provided by that law, the test of fairness it generates and the enforcement mechanism it uses. The wider and clearer the scope is, and the clearer the test is, the more effective protection can be expected in favour of consumers. Also, given the position of the consumer as a weak party in the contract, the effectiveness of the enforcement mechanism is linked with the deployment of public enforcement besides individual enforcement. By depending on the notion of adhesion contracts to protect consumers, Jordanian law has, to a large extent, failed to provide consumers with an acceptable level of protection. The Thesis shows that the scope of the notion of adhesion contracts is extremely narrow, falling short of covering all consumer contracts; or, at least, is not clear enough to establish certainty encouraging consumers to litigate. The test of fairness is also a source of uncertainty, since its main features are not set out clearly. Moreover, the enforcement of such protection is not effective since it has been left in the hands of individuals. This is far from being the case under English law, despite the existence of various defects and points of uncertainty throughout the Regulations. The Regulations were enacted to deal specifically with unfair terms in consumer contracts. Generally speaking, they appear to be, well established to undertake this task: the scope of protection is reasonably evident and wide; the test of fairness is, generally, clear; and the model of enforcement is, to a large degree, successful. Therefore, the English Regulations could represent a suitable example to be followed by any new Jordanian legislation aiming at protecting consumers against unfair terms, provided that the defects appearing in the Regulations are avoided and that any special characteristics of Jordanian consumers and the Jordanian legal system are taken into consideration.