22 May 2019

Uganda: Law to Punish Fake Product Makers in Offing

Kampala — The Uganda Law Reform Commission has drafted a Bill seeking to protect the vulnerable public from consuming fake products that are flooding the market.

The Bill in offing aims at placing liability on manufacturers, sellers and distributors of defective or unsafe products that may cause injury, damage or death to consumers.

The law in making, The Liability for Defective Products Bill, 2019, seeks to fill the gap of existing government regulatory bodies that have failed in their mandate of regulating the products.

Explaining the importance of the draft law, Ms Vastina Rukimirana, the chairperson of Uganda Law Reform Commission, said on the Ugandan market today are processed fake consumables such as foods, tobacco, textile, chemicals, drugs, print products, soap and metal fabrics.

"Uganda's market heavily relies on imported products. The bulk of these products are usually of very low quality. It is therefore no surprise that some products on the market are manufactured using hazardous substances that expose consumers to risk and dangers," Ms Rukimirana said in Kampala yesterday during a workshop to discuss the draft legislation by relevant stakeholders.

Unfavourable law

"The current system of tort and contract law is prohibitive, restrictive and burdensome on claimants or consumers. Often, it is difficult for a consumer to prove fault on the part of a major and big manufacturing company especially on processes undertaken during production," she added.

Ms Rukimirana explained that the need to have in place such a legislation for product liability is premised on policy considerations that include the desire to achieve maximum protection for consumers or injured party, promotion of public interest in discouraging the marketing of defective products that are a menace to the public.

MP Robert Sebunya, the chairperson of the Parliament's committee on Trade and Industry, who was the chief guest at the workshop, welcomed the Bill. He said majority of consumers are naïve and don't know how to fight for their rights in this area of trade.

During the general discussion, some existing government bodies that are mandated to regulate and protect consumers from fake products such as the Uganda National Bureau of Standards and National Drug Authority were accused of not playing their constitutional role and being infested with corruption.

The Bill will be submitted to the line Ministry of Trade and Industry for onward presentation to Cabinet for approval before it is tabled in Parliament for debate.

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