July 14, 2017

The Consumer Affairs Commission (CAC) and the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) recently (July 13, 2017) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to facilitate effective cooperation in protecting consumers with respect to complaints against state agencies, preventing duplication and providing consistent enforcement.

Mrs. Dolsie Allen, Chief Executive Officer, CAC, stated that, “While the overarching mandate of the Commission is to protect consumers in relation to the supply of goods and services, a key function is to resolve disagreements between consumers and providers. However, the CAC does not have the direct jurisdiction to claim redress for consumers in instances of poor service delivery by the Crown/government. As such, the Commission will always seek to educate and protect consumers.”

In signing the MOU, Mr. Kent Gammon, CAC Chairman, noted that, “To enhance service performance, government institutions are expected to have internal complaint handling mechanisms to address consumer complaints. However, when there is a breakdown in the relationship between the government institution and the customer, a body, being independent of the government, must have the jurisdiction to investigate and resolve the issue with impartiality. In the constitutional and administrative framework of the Jamaican legal system, that duty rests with the Office of the Public Defender (OPD) under the Public Defender (Interim) Act.”

Mrs. Arlene Harrison Henry, Public Defender at the Office of the Public Defender noted that, “Over the years, the Consumer Affairs Commission and the Office of the Public Defender have worked together to investigate matters, where a consumer breach has occurred. The MOU formalises this relationship with each organisation retaining its separateness and autonomy, while preventing duplication of efforts.”

The Public Defender also highlighted that, “The capacity of the citizen to complain via the legislation embodied in both organisations, is the citizen’s power.”

It should be noted that the Public Defender does not seek to resolve disputes between customers and private institutions regarding their provision of consumer goods and services, for that is the role of the CAC as stipulated in the Consumer Protection Act (2005), Amended 2012. It is therefore necessary for the CAC and the OPD to work together particularly in relation to the referral of complaints specific to the mandate/jurisdiction of the respective organisation so that the complaints may be satisfactorily resolved pursuant to the relevant legislation. 

The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding was held at the office of the Consumer Affairs Commission, 34 Trafalgar Road. 



The Communications Unit
Consumer Affairs Commission
34 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10
Tel: 906-5425/906-8568
 Mobile: 564-8942