Category Archives: IACL events and reports

Report on 16th IACL Conference: 2017 BRAZIL

Report on 16th IACL Conference: 2017 BRAZIL

The 16th Congress of the International Association of Consumer Law (IACL), was entitled “Economic Development and Consumer Law”, held at the Faculty of Law of Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), organized by IACL, Brasilcon Institute, UFRGS, University of São Paulo (USP), Pontifical Catholic University (PUCRS), Groupe de Recherche en Droit International et Comparé de la Consommation (GREDICC-UQAM), with the support of CAPES and CDEA and several other sponsors such as Itaipu Binacional.

There were sixty five (65) presentations, with nine keynote speakers, bringing together the most important scholars of consumer law from 29 countries (South Africa, Germany, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Croatia, Cuba, Denmark, Spain, France, Germany, Guinea Bissau, Italy, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, United Kingdom, Senegal, Serbia, Uruguay) and consumer movements, including Consumers International and Brazilian National Consumer Protection System (PROCON). The official languages of the event were English and French, but with the support of PROCON-Porto Alegre, PROCON-RS, CAPES and Brasilcon Institute, there were simultaneous translations of the main lectures into Portuguese. The IACL celebrated its 25th anniversary

The outgoing IACL President, Prof. Gail Pearson, opened the Conference with a speech. The new Board, President Prof. Dr. Michelle Kelly-Low (UNISA, South Africa) and Vice-President Prof. Dr. Marco Loos (University of Amsterdam, Netherland) were also present.

The Panels addressed the following themes: 1) roots and fundamentals of consumer law; 2) contemporary challenges in consumer protection; and 3) the future of international and sustainable consumer law.

It is necessary to mention the presence of numerous consumer law scholars who held their conferences in the Noble Hall of the Faculty of Law (UFRGS), among them the Professors Honoris Causa Thierry Bourgoiegny, Hans Micklitz, Gilles Paisant, Beate Gsell, Antonio Herman Benjamin, Gabriel Stiglitz, Udo Reifner, Wei Dan, Michico Maeda, Marco Loos and Michelle Kelly-Louw.

There was a great deal of concern about the future of consumer law. Prof. Benjamin discussed how the degree of development of a country could affect the concept of consumer. Prof. Hans Micklitz, explored the evolution of consumer rights to a more functional approach, stating the impossibility of codifying an ever more extensive consumer right.

Issues that are constant concerns, such as liability, publicity, abusive clauses, procedures, arbitration, innovative subjects such as big data, artificial intelligence, the share economy, urbanism and energy, were presented and discussed by the numerous panels, enriching the exchange of information among all participants, students, teachers,
in the incessant search for a more just society.

During the event, the book “Consumer protection: current challenges and perspectives – Proceedings of the 25 years of IACL Congress 16-19 July 2017” was published, under the coordination of Professors Claudia Lima Marques, Gail Pearson, and Fabiana Ramos (ISBN 9788565862264), bringing together in 780 pages 36 articles of the main researchers in consumer law present at the Conference.

The articles, written in English, Spanish, French and German, were divided into three parts: the current challenges of consumer law (fundamentals, contractual protection, liability and solidarity, and collective and individual enforcement); the international dimension of consumer law; and the dialogue between protecting the environment and protecting the digital world.

The success of the IACL congress was complete with side events. The Brazilian National Consumer Protection System held a meeting during the Congress, as did some Research Networks, including the German-Brazilian Network on Consumer Protection, the Helsinki-European Institute Florence Research Group together with the Journal of Consumer Law and Policy Review, and the Brasilcon´s Professors on Consumer Law Network.

Report on 15th IACL Conference

The theme of the 2015 International Association of Consumer Law conference was ‘virtues and consumer law’. The conference was hosted by the University of Amsterdam and took places in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The key question discussed during the conference was: what makes consumer protection law fit for consumers and businesses? This question was addressed from various angles, dealing with various virtues and their relation to consumer protection law.

The conference hosted 39 workshops (during 8 concurrent sessions) on themes such as Hope (in the era of a financial crisis), Fairness (against unfair commercial practices and against unfair terms), Compassion (in clinical trials and towards vulnerable consumers in financial sector), Forgiveness (through arbitration and ODR), Trust (through data protection) and Self-realization (in consumer contracts). Keynote speeches were held by, i.a., the late Norbert Reich (University of Bremen), Omri Ben-Shahar (University of Chicago), Carina Törnblom (European Commission), Verica Trstenjak (former Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union) and Oren Bar-Gil (Harvard University).

The conference was attended by well over 200 participants –academics, consumer advocates, business representatives and lawyers – from all over the world. The conference was organized by prof. dr. Marco Loos, dr. Joasia Luzak and Sacha Tamboer, LLM.

Call for Papers – 15th conference of the IACL

Submission deadline: 15 November 2014
Dates: Monday, 29 June 2015 – Wednesday, 1 July 2015
Location: Faculty of Law, University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)

The 15th conference of the International Association of Consumer law is organized on the theme of “Virtues and Consumer Law”. We kindly invite participants from all around the world to submit an abstract of a paper they would like to present during the conference addressing one of the virtues and consumer protection issues. The conference will run from approximately 10:00 AM on Monday, June 29, 2015 to 4:30 PM on Wednesday, July 1, 2015. It will be held at the Faculty of Law of the University of Amsterdam. The goal of this conference is to provide a forum where leading international scholars, practitioners, representatives of consumer organizations, public authorities and business can gather together to present and discuss issues relevant to consumer protection in many sectors (financial law, health law, information law, sales law, etc.) and from various perspectives. We welcome both theoretical and empirical submissions.


While papers on all topics related to consumer protection are welcome, we especially encourage submissions related to the following topic areas:

  • Self-realization (in tourism, air travel or entertainment sector);
  • Faith (in public and/or private enforcement of consumer law, in collective redress);
  • Curiosity (in e-commerce, telecommunication sector or on innovation and consumer law);
  • Compassion (towards vulnerable consumers, in medicine or in clinical trials); Frugality (in the banking sector or in financial contracts);
  • Fairness (against unfair commercial practices and/or misleading advertising, against unfair contract terms, in protection of SMEs, through good faith and fair dealing);
  • Trust (through data protection, on privacy and security issues, through product safety and/or product liability, from behavioural economics perspective);
  • Forgiveness (through mediation or ADR);
  • Self-development (through education, through services, through consumer sale contracts);
  • Hope (against overindebtness, through clean-slate doctrine, by way of insurance).



All interested should submit an abstract (500 words maximum) of a paper they would like to present and a CV to this address: [email protected] by November 15, 2014. All submissions will be reviewed by the organizers of the conference. All participants will be notified of the organizers’ decisions by January, 15, 2015. The timely notification should allow participants to benefit from often announced in January various reductions on flights to Amsterdam (for example, with the Dutch airline KLM).


The chosen papers will be presented during concurrent workshop sessions with the presentation time being (strictly) limited to max 15 minutes. There will be short discussion time guaranteed in each concurrent workshop session. Authors of best papers will be presented with a possibility of publishing them in a volume, however, all authors will be ultimately free to publish their work in other venues, if they choose so. Please note that ALL participants (including presenters of the chosen papers for each concurrent workshops sessions) are expected to timely register according to the Registration policy as set on our website, which involves timely and full payment of the registration fee. Participants are warmly invited to attend all days of the conference, including the social program (drinks after the closing of the conference on both Monday and Tuesday; two conference dinners, on Monday and Tuesday respectively; canal boat ride).

Blog on 14th IACL Conference

Kathleen-EngelWe are grateful to Professor Kathleen C. Engel of Suffolk University Law School for providing this guest post on the International Association of Consumer Law biannual conference:

Every two years, consumer law academics from around the world gather to present their research and discuss their countries’ credit markets and consumer protection laws. This year, the International Association of Consumer Law held its biannual conference at the University of Sydney. Given Australia’s extraordinary success protecting consumers while providing broad access to capital, the setting was fitting.

The conference delegates hailed from Taiwan, Brazil, South Africa, China, Finland, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the UK, and many other countries. There were well over sixty papers presented as as enlightening talks by Australian regulators, ombudspeople, and members of the judiciary.

For me, the highlight of IACL conferences is the opportunity to learn about the experiences of other countries—the challenges they face in making affordable credit available, the structure of their credit markets, their consumer regulatory systems, and the protections they provide consumers. At the end of the day, the balance between protecting consumers and ensuring access to credit seems to be the core issue in all countries.

The individual papers were outstanding and I wish I could write a synopsis of each of them. Instead, I will highlight a few of themes. One distressing theme was that while many countries have strengthened their consumer laws in recent years, widespread exploitation of consumers continues. During one session, the audience was exuding envy at a description of Brazil’s consumer protections, which are Constitutional, only to find that abuses continue there. Why? Because the profits to be made through unlawful loans far exceed any consequences for making such loans. Brazil is not alone.

Switching gears, Sharia complaint financing was on the conference agenda. In western countries,there are structural barriers to Islamic financing, such as how to develop credit products that do not have any interest features and developing a secondary market for such products. There are also concerns about how to reconcile Islamic financing with extant consumer protection laws. For example, with some types of Sharia compliant financing, homes are under “underwater” from the outset, which could run afoul of loan-to-value limits. Even in countries where there are significant Muslim populations, there are issues of bank compliance with both religious and secular law.

Big data and the internet came up at a number of sessions. For years, people have talked about how lenders can dupe consumers because of inequalities in their understanding of credit terms and unequal bargaining power. There is another growing power imbalance: the private sector has more information on individual consumers’ spending habits and credit histories than the consumers themselves have. Industry can use this information to target consumers with specific products, but consumers don’t have information on their spending patterns that would help them make informed choices.

The intersection of the internet and consumer protection gave rise to a host of papers, including the question: what is applicable law in cross-border transactions? What consumer law applies if I use the internet to rent an apartment in Shanghai that is owned by someone in Pretoria? No easy answers to this question.

My final thought is actually an expression of thanks to Gail Pearson, Professor at the University of Sydney, who hosted and planned a flawless conference.

» Originally posted on the Consumer Law & Policy Blog

Report on the 14th IACL Conference

Sydney turned from weeks of rain to beautiful winter sun to welcome the 14th biennial conference of the International Association of Consumer Law at the University of Sydney.

The theme of the conference was diversity and it lived up to this. There were 66 papers from 16 countries. This does not include the plenary sessions. The conference was opened by the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney who explained the spiritual significance of the land and welcomed visitors to a place of gathering for ceremonies and learning for thousands of years.

The President of the Association, Vice chancellor Sothi Rachagan spoke on financial services and the disparities between the banked and unbanked world.

The Opening address by our guest, The Hon Justice S Rares was a lively account of some early fetters on freedom of contract and a critique of the multitude of overlapping statutory protections in current consumer law in Australia.

This was followed by another plenary panel. This was a presentation of research undertaken by the Consumer Action Law Centre to assess the performance of federal and state regulators in taking enforcement measures and a subsequent discussion involving four senior Australian regulators. The next day in another plenary session three Ombudsmen addressed the conference outlining their role and the volume and type of complaints they deal with. In the afternoon at the final plenary session three regulators outlined how the new Australian consumer law is administered and the nature of cooperation between the states which ensures for instance that travelling scammers are tracked from state to state and local communities warned through the media.

The Brazilian Consul General briefly addressed the conference on the importance of the Brazilian proposal for a convention on the international protection of tourists.

There was much sharing of information, proposals for reform, and cross fertilisation of ideas between delegates who came from every continent and included academics, representatives of consumer organisations, representatives of regulatory agencies, other ombudsmen, and judges.

The speaker at the conference dinner is one of the stars of the Australian Broadcasting Commission television program The Checkout. This is a comedy program with a serious consumer affairs message. Several delegates from different countries now intend to use utube segments from The Checkout in their teaching.

The conference supported a statement sent to it from the International Law Association Committee on the International Protection of Tourists as Consumers.

“The International Association of Consumer Law [or the IACL-members], on the occasion of the 14th Biannual Conference at the University of Sydney, expresses strong support for the Brazilian Government’s Proposal to add to the working agenda of the Hague Conference on Private International Law the subject of the protection of international tourists as consumers. The Brazilian Proposal to create a global cooperation network on the subject has every chance of success and the IACL wants to compliment this effort to facilitate the protection of international tourists as consumers.”

Those members of the IACL Board who were present at the conference met. This followed email exchange with other Board members. There was a general meeting of the IACL.

It was agreed that the governance structure of the Association should be changed to include an Advisory Panel and a Board. The Advisory Panel should consist of the founding members of the conference and Past Presidents. It is desirable that at least one past President should remain on the Board.

It is envisaged the Advisory Panel will be Antonio Benjamin, Thierry Bourgoine, Geraint Howells, Sothi Rachagan, Iain Ramsay, Thomas Wilhelmsson

The Board thanks the following for their valued contributions to the Association:

Gabriel Stiglitz – who has stepped down for Sebastián Barocelli with the aim of reviving Argentinian participation. Peter Rott who said he is happy to stand down to make way for Marco Loos. Allen Zysblatt is retired and happy to stand down. There does not appear to be anyone from the immediate region to take his place at present.