Authors’ of “ENCUMBRANCE OF INDIAN E-COMMERCE COMPANIES UNDER COPRA 2019: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF INDIA AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”

Tell us about yourself ?

Nimisha Khanna is a second-year LL.B (Hons.) student at The University of Law, London, Bloomsbury campus. She completed her high school from Amity International School, Gurgaon, India graduating with a percentage of 97.25 with the top score of 100 in Legal studies. Not only academics but she has also been active outside the classroom. She is a very enthusiastic person and loves to socialize with different people from various cultural backgrounds. After her law degree, she aspires to work in a commercial law firm and fulfill her dreams in this career.

Yajur Lath is a second-year B.B.A LL.B student at one of the top 5 law schools in India, National Law University, Jodhpur. He completed his high school from Amity International School, Gurgaon, India. He is a very optimistic person and enjoys challenging himself with new tasks. He has keen interests in cycling and his pass time hobby is drumming.

Pranav Mattapalli is a second-year B.B.A LL.B student at Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat. He completed his schooling from Amity International School, Gurgaon, India. A keen researcher and a hardworking person, who likes to interact with people and watch Formula 1 and solve puzzles.

What do you think are the reasons for e-commerce to gain such a huge significance in our economy?

With early entrants such as E-bay, and with giants such as Amazon and Alibaba, e-commerce has revolutionized the global economy, with a projection stating that India’s e-commerce industry at nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars by 2028.(Morgan Stanley). The simple reason being convenience. Nearly every product is available with simply a few clicks and promptly delivered to your doorstep. The COVID-19 pandemic has given this industry an unprecedented boost, with people avoiding outdoor visits.

How did the liability shift from the buyer (Caveat Emptor) to the seller (Caveat Venditor)?

In 1986, the Indian parliament passed the Consumer Protection Act of 1986 (COPRA 1986), which for the first time introduced several liabilities on businesses, to ensure that customers are not unfairly treated, and are protected for inferior, and in some cases even hazardous goods and services. This Act formalised the shift in liability from Caveat Emptor to Caveat Venditor.

When did the liabilities of e-commerce companies actually come into the picture?

In India, the rise in e-commerce came into the picture with the introduction of the internet and became very apparent with several new scams arising, with websites such as Timtara in 2013, Snapdeal delivering wrong orders and so on. In 2014, a formal parliamentary reply clarifies that the Consumer Protection Act applied to e-commerce as well, from where the actual liabilities started.

What are the changes brought by the passage of the Consumer Protection Act 2019 and the draft e-commerce guidelines?

The Consumer Protection Act of 2019 for the first time carry provisions, empowering the central government to create regulatory mechanisms for e-commerce companies, along with heavy penalties for acts like misleading advertisements on their platforms. The draft guidelines also provide for certain rules like delivery timelines and formal redressal mechanisms.

What are the liabilities of e-commerce companies towards their consumers

While the formal e-commerce guidelines are not enforceable yet, all the liabilities enumerated under the Consumer Protection Act of 2019 apply to all e-commerce companies. Some of these include – penalties for false advertising, sale of hazardous goods etc. The guidelines provide for provisions such as mandatory establish of grievance officer and many more to add on.

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