The paper exposes the shortcoming of policy measures aimed at preventing consumer exploitation, including the flawed disclosure rules that place the burden of comprehension on consumers while being manipulated to undermine their full understanding.
Williams C. Iheme, Associate Professor, Jindal Global Law School, O.P. Jindal Global University, Sonipat, Haryana, India.
This paper aims to identify and challenge the common practice among financial institutions of designing and selling complex financial products to consumers who lack full comprehension, thus preventing them from making informed decisions before consuming such financial products. This deceptive approach leads many consumers to experience financial losses, with significant negative consequences for society as a whole. The paper delves into the motivations behind financial institutions to produce and successfully sell complex financial products; they flourish, mainly because they often take advantage of the inadequate regulatory systems, amongst other things. Furthermore, it explores the enabling environment created by laissez-faire contract, which prioritizes principles like pacta sunt servanda and caveat emptor, resulting in regulators overlooking and undervaluing the abuse faced by financial consumers, leaving them largely responsible for resolving their own challenges.
The paper exposes the shortcoming of policy measures aimed at preventing consumer exploitation, including the flawed disclosure rules that place the burden of comprehension on consumers while being manipulated to undermine their full understanding. Additionally, it critiques the use of complicated language and heavy use of financial jargon in financial information booklets, which, although meeting legal disclosure requirements, hinder the comprehension of consumers. To address these issues, the paper proposes a new disclosure rule grounded in the concepts of caveat venditor and contra proferentem.
This rule would require financial institutions to present information against their own self-interest and provide an equal number of disadvantages alongside advantages for the products they offer. Furthermore, it suggests that regulators and courts should play a pivotal role in supervising and assessing compliance, issuing annual performance-rated certificates that financial institutions must prominently display in their establishments and incorporate into their product information leaflets. This approach would allow consumers to easily identify consumer-friendly financial institutions.
Published in: Juridicas
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