On June 2nd, 2014, President Michelle Bachelet introduced to Congress a bill that modified Law No. 19,496 Consumer Protection Act – Bulletin No. 9369-03 – (the "Bill"). This Bill is known as "Bill of Strengthening of the National Consumers Bureau ("SERNAC")" due to the main modifications that would be implemented to the current Law No. 19,496 Consumer Protection Act ("CPA"); which tends to strengthen SERNAC's institutionality, granting it more abilities.
On October 17th, 2017, the Bill was endorsed by Congress. After been approved by the Senate House, the Bill was referred to the House of Representatives for its third constitutional stage.
Hereunder, an outline on the Bill's principal guidelines and its main changes to the current law:
NEW ABILITIES OF SERNAC
The Bill aims to significantly increase SERNAC's abilities regarding supervision, sanctioning, interpretation of the law, regulation and propositive abilities which will be regulated by different agencies of SERNAC which will work independently from one another:
Supervision: SERNAC has the ability to enter into those facilities in which suppliers develop their activities, in order to determine the fulfillment of the law. This ability could be exercise with the assistance of the public force in case the supplier does not cooperate with the supervision process. Also, in this context, the authority has the ability to require any document, book or information necessary for the supervision; and to subpoena the legal representatives, administrators, advisors and other dependents of the company, regarding the facts subject to these proceedings. Sanctioning: The Bill gives SERNAC the ability to directly sanction the infringements to the CPA. For this purpose, the Bill sets forth a new sanctionary proceeding before SERNAC. Regulating and interpreting: The National Director of SERNAC will be allowed, through the respective agency, to: (i) interpret regulation that protects the rights of consumers; and (ii) issue rules or general instructions, in order to complement the CPA (which will only refer to subjects regarding consumer's rights, abusive provisions, legal guarantee, misleading advertisement, basic commercial information and safety of products and services.The Bill requires that, prior to the issue of this rules or general instructions; these go through a previous public consultation and, in case they affect suppliers regulated by sectorial entities, also to be approved by the respective regulator. Lastly, the Bill also contemplates the possibility to claim illegality against rules issued by SERNAC before The Court of Appeals of Santiago. Propositive ability: The Bill grants SERNAC the possibility of proposing, to the President of the Republic, through the Ministry of Economy, the issue, modification or elimination of legal or regulatory precepts, in order to protect the rights of the consumers. II.- INCREASE ON FINES AND DETERMINATION OF FINES
The Bill proposes to significantly increase the fines established by the CPA. Some of the most relevant modifications are:
Additionally, the Bill establishes a system to determine the amount of the fines, which binds both judge and SERNAC. The new determination of fines includes several mitigating and aggravating circumstances which, after being weighted by the judge, must be indicated...