State Consumer Rights Protection Authority coordinates state institutions' activities on protection of consumers.
One of the main priorities of the State Consumer Rights Protection Authority is to create a consumer rights protection system corresponding to high European Union standards. The main aims, tasks and priority trends of consumer right protection are determined by the National Strategy for Consumer Protection.
State Consumer Rights Protection Authority follows the requirements set by the European Union. The Authority, while implementing prescribed functions, will ensure that every consumer, whether he lives in a city or in countryside, is aware that the State Consumer Rights Protection Authority and state institutions existing under its coordination will help to solve the problems arisen for consumer.
Ensuring a high protection level of consumers in the Republic of Lithuania through building of the consumer rights protection system aligned with European Union law.
Implementing the state policy on consumer rights protection market surveillance for non-food products and tourism service providers intended to guarantee effective consumer rights protection.
DEVELOPMENT OF CONSUMER POLICY
- State Consumer Protection Strategy for 2015-2018 approved by the Government;
- From 2019 – State Consumer Protection Development Program (for 7-9 years);
- Annual Activity Plans of relevant institutions, implementation of which is reported to responsible ministries.
The main strategic document, providing key goals of consumer policy for the period of 4 years is State Consumer Protection Strategy. This is a guiding document drafted by a working group consisting of representatives from various ministries and other public bodies, as well as from consumer and business associations, academia. The main consumer policy goals established in Consumer Protection Strategy are the following:
- To improve the operation of consumer protection system ensuring the effective protection of economic interests of consumers;
- To develop alternative dispute resolution of consumer disputes;
- To improve the education of consumers and entrepreneurs and to enhance the role of consumer associations.
CONSUMER PROTECTION INSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM
Generally, two ministries in Lithuania are in charge of the development of consumer related policies. The Ministry of Justice shapes national policy in the field of the protection of consumer rights and organizes, coordinates and controls its implementation. The Ministry of Economy is responsible for the development of non-food product safety and market surveillance policy.
Other policies should be mentioned (transport, health, tourism, communication etc.), which are the competence of other ministries, and also have some direct or indirect links to consumer policy. Therefore, close cooperation with related ministries (e.g. Ministry of Transport and Communication, Ministry of Health etc.) is crucial in policy decision making process.
State Consumer Rights Protection Authority (SCRPA), which is established and operates under the Ministry of Justice, implements the national consumer protection policy (including non-food product safety and market surveillance) and ensures protection of consumer rights. It is the main enforcement authority for consumer policy. Besides, the SCRPA coordinates activities of other public authorities in the field of consumer protection (such as Competition Council, State Food and Veterinary Authority, Communication Regulatory Authority, State Data Protection Inspectorate, Energy Inspectorate, Central Bank and other consumer protection authorities).
CONSUMER PROTECTION SYSTEM
- Coordinates state institutions' activities on protection of consumers;
- Protects consumers' public interest;
- Undertakes control over controls the standard contract terms and challenges the unfair terms of consumer contracts;
- In accordance with the procedure established by law, investigates individuals' reports, complaints and requests for tourism, recreational or reimbursable medical services, food and non-food products, consumer services, energy and utilities;
- Analyzes consumer complaints on unfair contract terms;
- Informs and consults consumers and business entities;
- Performs other functions specified in legal acts of the Republic of Lithuania.
- Coordinates and implements protection of consumer economic interests, supervises market of consumer products and services;
- Considers disputes between consumers and entrepreneurs through alternative dispute resolution procedure (out-of-court, ADR) and through the Electronic Dispute Resolution Platform (EGS);
- Investigates violations of Law on Advertising and cases of unfair commercial practices;
- Supervises whether non-food products delivered to the market meet legal requirements for safety, quality and labeling;
- Organizes and carries out education of consumers, sellers, producers and services providers';
- Provides information for consumers about unsafe products, which have appeared or may appear in the market;
- Organizes the exchange of information with the European Union and Member States;
- Represents the Republic of Lithuania in European Union and international organizations in consumer rights protection field.
ENFORCEMENT MEASURES AND SANCTIONS
The SCRPA takes enforcement measures and imposes sanctions for:
- Infringements of the Civil Code (in case of application of unfair terms in consumer contracts);
- Infringements of the Code of Administrative Offenses (improper labeling of non-food products);
- Infringements of the Law on Advertising;
- Infringements of the Law on the Prohibition of Unfair Business-to-Consumers Commercial Practices;
- Infringements of the Law on Product safety;
- Infringements of the Law on Consumer Protection (Article 40: non provision of information, noncommunication during investigation, etc.).
- Further monitoring of online shops and education of online sellers;
- Monitoring of consumer contracts and websites, providing organised travel packages;
- Monitoring of advertising in local regional newspapers and magazines;
- Further education and information of entities.