Experts develop law to check unfair contracts
The Law Reform Commission (LRC) has started the process to draft a law to deal with unfair contract terms in the country.
A roundtable in Accra yesterday to discuss a statutory framework for the development of a law, brought together experts in the legal field and lay persons with different backgrounds to deliberate on the practical reforms needed to make the existing laws responsive to the protection of parties in contracts.
It would be a definite law that will take care of unfair contract terms not found in the various existing contract laws such as Contracts Act, 1960 (Act 25), Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036), the Sale of Goods Act, 1962 (Act137) and the Illiterate Protection Act, 1912 (CAP 262) among others.
The legal experts were expected to discuss the legal issues that would form the basis of the law under construction.
The issues for consideration included the scope of the law, the nature of the exclusion clauses or limitation clauses in contracts in the Ghanaian law and the extent to which a party to a contract could limit his or her liability under a contract and protection for illiterate parties to a contract among others.
A Justice of the Court of Appeal, Dr Ernest Owusu-Dapaah, in a presentation on why the country needed a dedicated legal framework on unfair contractual terms in the country said such a move would address several important issues that protected the rights and interests of consumers and promote fair and ethical business practices.
He said some of the key issues that needed to be considered and addressed in such legislation included clear definition of what constituted an unfair contract term, consumer rights, including the right to information.
The Executive Director of the LRC, Anita Ababio, explained that the law of unfair contract was an aspect of consumer protection rights they were seeking to formulate.
“Unfair contract means signing a contract without having an idea of what it is”, she explained.
She cited unfair contract terms as signing a mortgage without having knowledge of the deeper details of the terms or buying an item from a shop with information written in languages people did not understand such as Chinese.
“For example statements such as “Goods sold are not returnable”, meanwhile there are defects in them that you did not see immediately and because of these clauses, you cannot get a refund or replacement”.
A Deputy Minister of Justice, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, said the conference was in line with the transformational agenda of government to make the law practicable to respond to the socio-cultural and economic needs of Ghanaians at all times.