Consumer rights – Band H Lock Wed, 20 Oct 2021 07:11:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Consumer rights – Band H Lock 32 32 Pfizer has the power to “silence” governments and “maximize profits”, consumer group says Wed, 20 Oct 2021 07:11:51 +0000

COVID-19 vaccine maker Pfizer has been accused of hiding behind a veil of secrecy to profit from the “worst public health crisis” in more than 100 years.

This is the main criticism from Public Citizen, a consumer rights group, which published a report containing leaks of Pfizer contracts with the US, UK, European Commission, Albania, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Dominican Republic and Peru.

In some of the contracts (some of which were in draft or final form), Pfizer had the power to prevent countries from donating their COVID-19 vaccines to other countries, from unilaterally changing delivery schedules by shortage and demand that public assets be used as collateral.

If there was a dispute, it would not be resolved by a tribunal (a public forum), according to some of the contracts. Instead, they said, any disagreement would be resolved through private arbitration under New York law.

“The contracts offer a rare glimpse of the power a pharmaceutical company has acquired to silence governments, reduce supply, shift risk and maximize profits in the worst public health crisis in a century,” said Zain Rizvi , the author of the report.

Some countries have signed contracts, waiving “immunity against [Pfizer’s] seizure of one of the [their] assets ”, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.

The Brazilian government has been prohibited from making “any public announcement concerning the existence, purpose or conditions of [the] agreement ”or comment on his relationship with Pfizer, unless he has obtained the prior written consent of the company.

Unclear provisions

Since August, the Australian government has entered into a vaccine exchange agreement with Singapore and Great Britain and has purchased 1 million doses of Pfizer from Poland.

But it’s not clear whether the federal government needed to seek authorization from Pfizer before it could enter into these deals.

It is also not clear whether the government signed a contract stating that Australia would waive its right to avail itself of sovereign immunity if Pfizer made a request for asset seizure (a clause that was in the contracts with several countries).

The ABC asked these questions to the Department of Health.

In an emailed statement, the department said, “Details of the Advance Purchase Agreement (APA) with Pfizer for the purchase of their COVID-19 vaccine are trading with confidence.”

As of Wednesday, 70% of Australians aged 16 and over had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, a key step in the federal government’s plan to reopen the country.

Prior to that, the government was heavily criticized for the slow rollout of the vaccine and the decision by the health minister’s office not to meet with Pfizer executives until August 4, months after it was first approached by the company.

Documents released under freedom of information laws showed health ministry officials were unwilling to sign a confidentiality agreement before meeting with Pfizer officials because it was “not standard practice “.

There were other reasons for the delay in vaccination, including general reluctance to the vaccine and concerns about the AstraZeneca vaccine and the extremely rare risk of recipients of developing a blood clot.

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Do we really need booster shots for COVID-19?

The company will be “naturally blamed”

Pfizer closely monitors the supply of its vaccines, even after delivery.

For example, Brazil is not allowed to buy or accept donated Pfizer doses from another country without Pfizer’s approval, nor can it sell, donate or transport its vaccines outside of the country. from the country.

There is a reasonable explanation for this requirement to be included in Pfizer’s contracts, according to University of Queensland biotech and pharmaceutical expert Trent Munro.

“When drug companies release a product, they usually lose control of where it’s stored,” he said.

“If, for example, the vaccine is damaged or does not work properly, the responsibility will fall on the company. They would naturally be blamed even if they do not control the distribution.”

Even when a country has ordered vaccines from Pfizer and is waiting for them to arrive, the company has the power to change the vaccine delivery schedule, without consulting the country or incurring a penalty. This term appears in its contracts with Albania, Brazil and Colombia.

The contracts that Brazil, Chile, Colombia and the Dominican Republic signed were broad enough to cover situations where they could not invoke sovereign immunity if they violated the agreement and Pfizer wanted to go after it. their public assets.

These nations have pledged to “expressly and irrevocably waive any right of immunity that it or its assets may have or acquire in the future.”

Public Citizen also said it has reviewed contracts in which governments were to “indemnify, defend and hold Pfizer harmless from and against all lawsuits, claims, actions, demands, damages, costs and expenses related to vaccine intellectual property.”

Pfizer has been contacted for comment.

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Recycle the waste that COVID-19 has created(Emilie Terzon)

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U.S. regulatory considerations for digital health Mon, 18 Oct 2021 21:57:07 +0000

This final article in our four-part series examines other relevant laws that digital healthcare providers and providers should be aware of.


When businesses tell consumers they’ll protect their personal information, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can act and make sure businesses keep their promises. The FTC has taken legal action against organizations that have violated consumers’ privacy rights, misled them by failing to ensure the safety of sensitive consumer information, or caused substantial harm to consumers. In many cases, the FTC has accused defendants of breaking laws relating to unfair and deceptive business practices.

As a recent example, a developer of a popular female fertility tracker app resolved the FTC’s claims that it misled consumers about disclosing consumer health data. Under the proposed regulation, the developer is prohibited from distorting: 1) the purposes for which he or the entities to which he discloses data collect, store, use or disclose the data; 2) to what extent can consumers control these uses of data? 3) its compliance with any privacy, security or compliance program; and 4) how it collects, stores, uses, discloses, deletes or protects users’ personal information. In addition, the developer must notify the affected users of the disclosure of their personal information and request any third party who has received information about the health of the users to destroy this data.1

In addition, the FTC also enforces federal laws relating to consumer privacy and safety.2 Specifically, the FTC’s health breach notification rule requires a personal health record (PHR) provider or DSP-related entity to notify affected consumers, the FTC, and in some cases, media of a breach of unsecured personal health information. Service providers and PHR related entities must also notify these PHR providers in the event of a violation. The FTC defines PHR as an electronic record of identifiable health information about an individual from multiple sources that is managed, shared, and controlled by or primarily for the individual.3 A company is a PHR provider if it offers or maintains a PHR. An example of a PHR provider is a business with an online service that allows consumers to store or organize medical information from many sources in one online location.4

A PHR provider that is not a HIPAA Covered Entity is not required to be HIPAA Compliant. Thus, PHR providers are not subject to the HIPAA violation notification rule, but are governed by the FTC health violation notification rule.5 The FTC recognizes scenarios in which an entity is a HIPAA Business Associate and subsequently offers PHR services to the public. Such an entity would be subject to both the HIPAA and FTC violation notification rules. The fact model is limited and does not address a situation where the customers of the PHR provider and the covered entity are the same group of people. However, in the event that a PHR provider has a direct relationship with all those affected by a violation of HIPAA, one entity could contract with the other to provide notification to those affected.6


The delivery of health care services in the United States through telemedicine or telehealth is generally regulated by state medical boards, state by state. Licensure requirements may vary depending on the location of the patient or health care provider. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, most states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, required physicians practicing telemedicine to be licensed in the state in which the patient is located. Regarding the Covid-19 public health emergency, twelve state councils have issued a special-use license, a telemedicine license or certificate, or a license to practice medicine across the borders of the United States. State regarding the practice of telemedicine and six states required physicians to register, as opposed to to obtain a license, if they wanted to practice across state lines.7

Many of these requirements were changed during the pandemic to rapidly scale large telehealth platforms to provide remote care during quarantine periods and in response to other pandemic-related demands. As a result, more and more states allow doctors providing health services to state residents to be licensed in neighboring states or other states. Some have taken the approach of providing an accelerated license to practice or relinquishing a license to practice for a temporary license for special needs. What is not clear, however, is how these states will pivot after the public health emergency is no longer in effect, and whether federal regulators could consider a federal approach to avoid the patchwork of state laws. and licensing regulations affect how telemedicine and telehealth services are implemented and at scale.

In addition to state licensing laws, there are also consent, medical record, pharmacy, physician order, and privacy considerations related to telemedicine services. Additionally, reimbursement for telehealth services for beneficiaries of federal health programs, such as Medicare, is governed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which historically have reimbursed only limited visits to remote areas where the one or both parties were physically in an acute care facility. Commercial payers, such as private and employer-sponsored health plans, govern reimbursement for private paying patients, and each has their own set of reimbursement requirements and schedules.

As a result, any company seeking to develop or expand its telemedicine presence in the United States will need to conduct a state-by-state analysis of specific regulatory requirements and will require federal reimbursement expertise and an understanding of the impact of contracts of commercial payers on reimbursement. for private paying patients. More importantly, such a business may need a crystal ball, as it is unclear how state and federal regulators will approach these issues once the public health emergency of Covid-19 is no longer in effect. .


Federal and state anti-kickback laws (for example, the federal anti-kickback law8) regulate business relationships in the health, pharmaceutical and medical device sectors, prohibiting natural or legal persons from requesting or receiving remuneration in exchange for referrals from health care program activities. Federal and state laws on physician self-referral (for example, the Stark Law9) generally prohibit health care providers from referring designated health services (DHS) to entities with which natural or legal persons have a direct or indirect financial relationship, with some exceptions.

The misrepresentation lawten imposes criminal penalties on any person or organization who knowingly makes a false record or makes a false statement regarding any federal health program, whether directly or indirectly. In addition, federal Social Security law imposes CMPs or excludes from Medicare and Medicaid programs physicians and other health care providers who commit various forms of fraud and abuse involving Medicare and Medicaid.

Under these federal and state laws, certain practices that encourage use and profitability and otherwise remunerate referrals are inadmissible and could subject known actors to civil or criminal penalties. Therefore, the types of business arrangements and negotiations that are common in other industries may be illegal in the healthcare industry, where goods or services are reimbursed by the federal government or third party payers. To the extent that companies aspire to provide goods or services to health care providers or directly to patients, when health care is reimbursed by federal health programs and commercial payers, these companies and their contracts and agreements Businesses will need a full understanding of applicable healthcare fraud and abuse. before doing business.


Digital health in the United States, like traditional healthcare, is governed by a variety of complicated and ever-changing regulations, especially during and after the Covid-19 public health emergency. Non-U.S. Based businesses must understand how to navigate these complex regulations at every stage of their business development, and nuanced and knowledgeable legal representation to understand the practical application of these regulations is essential for success in the U.S. market.




3 See

4 Identifier.

5 Identifier.

6 Identifier.

7 https: // …

8 42 USC § 1320a-7b.

9 42 USC § 1395nn.

ten 31 USC §§ 3729-3733.

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Ecommerce businesses need to reimburse their customers Sun, 17 Oct 2021 18:00:00 +0000

We are concerned about the government’s handling of the issue of e-commerce scams. Its efforts are mainly limited to preventing possible inconvenience in the future, when tens of thousands of customers and traders have yet to secure compensation from the government. So far, we have not seen any visible government initiative to recover money from e-commerce companies to reimburse victims. While the Commerce Department says there is little scope for them to get the money back under our law, according to legal experts the department can form a board or appoint directors to run the stray businesses that will work. to refund money to customers and sellers.

The Ministry of Commerce has reportedly formed three committees and issued standard operating procedures with the aim of stopping future fraudulent activities of e-commerce platforms and protecting the interests of consumers and traders. The question is: will this be enough? Shouldn’t the government come up with specific plans to recover the funds either?

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The government reportedly intends to assign agencies such as the National Board of Revenue and the Bangladesh Bank to find ways to recover the money from these fraudulent e-commerce companies. We believe that the sooner they do this, the better it will be for victims, especially since delayed action may not stem the threat of money laundering abroad.

Recently, the National Directorate for the Protection of Consumer Rights (DNCRP) fined 17 e-commerce companies for not delivering products as promised and also for deceiving customers with fake ads. Unfortunately, they couldn’t impose fines on big companies like Evaly, E-orange and Dhamaka Shopping due to certain limitations in our law – the DNCRP can impose a maximum fine of Tk 50,000 and jail offenders for a year. maximum, or both. And that meager amount of fine or jail is just not enough for these big fraudulent companies. It is therefore urgent to make changes to the law.

Some of the consumers are said to have filed complaints against Evaly, E-orange and other companies and are waiting for the court directive to get their lost money back. While the court will render its decision in due course, the government should also focus more on recovering the money so that consumers and traders can be adequately compensated. Recovering money may still be possible by tracking transactions from consumers and merchants to e-commerce companies, experts say. The government should consider doing this.

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Being free from hunger is an ultimate fundamental right; any nation unable to guarantee that it is a failed state Sat, 16 Oct 2021 15:30:00 +0000

It is a classic case of killing the messenger when the content of the message is obnoxious. Faced with the ignominy of being ranked behind Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal in the 2021 World Hunger Index at 101 out of 116, the Modi government challenged the conclusions drawn by the editors of the World Hunger Report, saying it is “devoid of reality and facts on the ground”. The government’s embarrassment is understandable, but that does not detract from the gravity of the situation in the country.

That the government should challenge the methodology used by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the agency from which the index compilers were inspired to arrive at their conclusions, shows the extent of his frustration. He could not have questioned the index itself because it is based on indisputable criteria, but questioned the methodology used by the FAO to calculate hunger and poverty.

In this context, it should be noted that when the FAO published the report, the government did not contest it. But when the report’s findings were used to construct the Hunger Index, it suddenly woke up as the index highlighted the problem.

More oddly, the government’s effort to deal with the index’s very damaging conclusion is not to question India’s rank, which it cannot do with any success, but to question the ranking of neighboring countries ahead of India. That in itself should show how slippery the government’s playing field is in defending its performance.

The Modi government challenges the conclusion of the FAO report, ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021’, that four other countries in this region – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka – managed to improve their position on the indicator ‘proportion of undernourished population’ by 4.3%, 3.3%, 1.3% and 0.8% points respectively during the period 2018 -20, at the height of the Covid pandemic.

The relevant question then is how this will improve the situation of around 190 million poor people if it is determined that the inhabitants of neighboring countries are poorer. According to FAO’s own estimates, out of a total population of 1.3 billion people, 190.7 million people are undernourished and 25 percent of children suffer from hunger.

In addition to this, the fragility of the Indian food system is further demonstrated by the fact that around 90 percent of the total workforce comes from the informal sector, which includes agricultural, migrant and other workers who depend entirely on wages. daily for their livelihood.

It is doubly embarrassing that the ranking was released on a day when Prime Minister Modi announced his intention to make India “the greatest military power in the world”. In a video address at an event to dedicate the Seven New Defense Societies to the nation on the occasion of Vijayadashami, a controversial decision in itself as it resulted in the dissolution of the board of directors of the Ordnance Factory, old 200-year-old Modi said the goal of his Atmanirbhar Bharat campaign was to make India “the greatest military power in the world on its own” and to develop a modern defense industrial base.

The plight of the 200 million extremely poor Indians raises the question of why India must be a military superpower when the country cannot provide enough food to feed its hungry. The most fundamental of all freedoms is freedom from hunger, and all other freedoms are meaningless if this is not guaranteed.

A nation must first be worth defending before allocating any resources for its defense and with regard to these people, a higher priority is to feed them adequately, a task in which the leaders of the country have failed so far.

This is more relevant today than ever as the government celebrates the high profile ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav’ to celebrate and commemorate 75 years of India’s freedom.

A few notches down or up might make a difference to a leader’s ego, but more than methodologies and numbers, what matters is the field experience for people. And this experience was not happy for a significant part of the Indian people.

This should be the cardinal thought on the occasion of the 75th year of Indian independence, nothing else.

(IPA Service)

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Facebook should clarify terms of service, Irish privacy regulator says Fri, 15 Oct 2021 09:30:00 +0000 A draft decision by the Irish privacy regulator would require Facebook Inc.

to change the way it informs users about its data processing, but ignores complaints that the social media giant needs to obtain direct consent for its activities.

If the decision is finalized, Facebook would also face a fine of between 28 and 36 million euros (equivalent to 32.4 to 41.7 million dollars) for lack of transparency with users. The case stems from a complaint filed in 2018 by Austrian privacy lawyer Max Schrems, whose non-profit organization NOYB published the draft ruling on Wednesday. The Irish Data Protection Commission has not made the decision public.

A spokesperson for the Irish regulator declined to comment as the investigation is still open and said the office shared the document with regulators in 26 other European Union countries last week. These regulators have one month to respond and may raise objections. The Irish Data Protection Commission will then make a final decision, and other European supervisors may still object at this stage.

A Facebook spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

The 2018 complaint, filed under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, claimed that Facebook had not obtained user consent on its data practices, such as the use of information. to display targeted advertisements, and instead ask them to agree to the terms and conditions of the platform. like a contract. Privacy advocates argue that businesses shouldn’t be able to hide important information about how they handle data in those documents that many consumers don’t read carefully.

The GDPR requires companies to prove that they are legally authorized to process data by obtaining the consent of individuals or by fulfilling other criteria such as the use of the data, as they are necessary for the performance of the data. contract. The European Data Protection Board, the coordinating group of EU privacy regulators, said in 2019 that businesses generally cannot rely on contracts to process personal data for targeted advertising. .

“The question is how far can you extend that, how far can you add more stuff to a contract that the average user doesn’t think is part of the social network,” Schrems said in a commentary. interview.

Helen Dixon is the Data Protection Commissioner for Ireland


Sean and Yvette for the Washington Post / Getty Images

The Irish regulator disagreed with Mr Schrems’ argument that Facebook did not need user data to fulfill its contract. “The counter-argument is that such advertising, being at the heart of Facebook’s business model and at the heart of the deal made by users of Facebook and Facebook, is necessary to perform the specific contract between Facebook and the plaintiff,” wrote the regulator.

Necessity is “a major obstacle in European law,” said Frederik Borgesius, professor of information and communication technologies and private law at Radboud University in the Netherlands. Using a contract as the basis for processing personal data for targeted advertising is “implausible” under GDPR, he said.

The Irish regulator has proposed to force Facebook to make its terms more transparent within three months. The company said it would need more time to make these changes, according to the draft decision.

Over the past year, European regulators have disagreed with their Irish counterpart’s findings in two other high-profile cases involving Facebook’s chat service WhatsApp in September and social networking site Twitter Inc. in December 2020. In both cases, the Irish office used a dispute resolution process to end disagreements, extending the cases by several months.

Under GDPR privacy laws published in 2018, the Irish regulator is responsible for overseeing the data practices of many large multinationals on behalf of all residents of the union of the 27 countries as their headquarters European social service is located in Ireland. This process has angered other European regulators, who have pushed for higher fines in the WhatsApp and Twitter cases.

Regulators in other European countries will likely oppose elements of Facebook’s decision as well, as it is a big business and the fundamental question of how people consent to their information being handled, said David Martin Ruiz, senior lawyer at the European Consumer Organization, a Brussels-based consumer rights group.

“It would be very problematic and dangerous to take away the ability for people to give their consent for something like tracking and profiling for targeted advertising,” said Martin Ruiz.

The Irish regulator’s decision, if finalized, could encourage other companies to hide details of their data practices instead of obtaining consumer consent, said Estelle Massé, global data protection officer to privacy group Access Now. “There is a real danger in letting Facebook get away with this, and potentially other companies that might say, ‘Well, if I just have to say it in my terms of service, that’s fine'”, a- she declared.

Write to Catherine Stupp at

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The Basics of Privacy Law: California’s Genetic Information Protection Act | Hinshaw Privacy & Cyber ​​Bytes – Compliance, Best Practices & Trends Information Wed, 13 Oct 2021 21:56:42 +0000

California Governor Newsom enacted the Genetic Information Privacy Act (GIPA) on October 6, 2021. GIPA requires direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies to comply with certain privacy and security requirements. data, such as the requirement of affirmative consumer consent regarding the collection, use, maintenance and disclosure of genetic data, and allowing consumers to access and destroy their genetic data.

Who does it apply to?

GIPA applies to companies that:

  • Sell, market, interpret or otherwise offer genetic testing products or services directly to consumers;
  • Analyze genetic data obtained from consumers;
  • Collect, use, store or disclose genetic data collected or derived from a genetic testing product or service directly intended for the consumer or provided directly by a consumer.

Who does this not apply to?

Licensed medical providers who actively diagnose or treat a patient’s condition.

What kinds of information would it cover?

GIPA covers “genetic data”, which is defined as any data, whatever the format, resulting from the analysis of a biological sample from a consumer or from another element allowing equivalent information to be obtained. , and concerns genetic material. Genetic material includes, but is not limited to, DNA, RNA, genes, chromosomes, alleles, genomes, DNA or RNA alterations or modifications, SNPs, data uninterpreted resulting from analysis of the biological sample and any information extrapolated, derived, or inferred from the materials in this list.

Genetic data does not include de-identified data or a biological sample to the extent that data or a biological sample is collected, used, stored and disclosed exclusively for the purposes of scientific research in very specific circumstances described in the law.

What rights does it create?

GIPA creates guarantees for the privacy, security and confidentiality of consumers of direct-to-consumer genetic testing. It ensures that consumers receive the required notice and have the option to revoke their consent for the use, collection or disclosure of consumer genetic data.

What obligations does it impose?

Under GIPA, companies must do the following, among other requirements identified in the law:

  • Provide clear and complete information regarding company policies and procedures for the collection, use, maintenance and disclosure of genetic data;
  • Obtain the express consent of a consumer for the collection, use and disclosure of the consumer’s genetic data;
  • Provide effective mechanisms, without dark blueprints, on how a consumer can file to revoke consent;
  • Implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices to protect a consumer’s genetic data from unauthorized access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure; and
  • Do not discriminate against a consumer because the consumer has exercised one of his rights under the GIPA

How will it be applied?

Consumers who have suffered actual harm and lost money or property due to the violation of GIPA will have a private right of action. The California attorney general and local government attorney will also sue GIPA through civil penalties.

Where is he at?

GIPA will enter into force on January 1, 2022.

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Texas bans vaccines for private employers Tue, 12 Oct 2021 21:18:53 +0000

On October 11, 2021, Governor Abbott issued Executive Order GA-40, declaring that no entity in Texas (including private employers and businesses) can require an individual to be vaccinated against COVID-19, including including an employee or consumer who objects to such vaccination due to (1) personal conscience, (2) religious belief, or (3) medical reasons, including previous recovery from COVID-19. Entities that fail to comply with this order may be fined up to $ 1,000.

The ordinance expressly states that it was enacted in response to the Biden administration. Last month, the Biden administration implemented various immunization mandates for some employers, including healthcare facilities that receive funds from the Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement program, federal contractors, and employers with 100 or more employees ( once the next OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard is released). In turn, there will likely soon be legal challenges regarding the scope of the executive order, especially if it is preempted by conflicting federal mandates.

Although the executive order allows non-compliant entities to be fined, the order does not expressly address protections or rights in the workplace. For example, if an employee is fired for refusing to comply with an employer’s vaccine mandate (unrelated to a religious and medical exemption), does he now have a legal remedy? Following the issuance of this decree, dismissed employees can attempt to bring what is called a Sabine Pilot claim. This public order claim is extremely narrow in application and generally only applies in cases where an employee is dismissed for refusing to do an illegal act punishable by criminal penalties – a scenario that these employees may find it difficult to handle. establish in this context.

What’s more, the decree also leaves it unanswered whether an employer’s vaccination policy is illegal in cases where employees have the option of having weekly tests instead of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. In a similar scenario, some commercial operators (eg, concert halls) have sought to avoid Texas’s ban on requiring consumers to present proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, by allowing them to produce instead a negative COVID-19 test.

© Polsinelli PC, Polsinelli LLP in CaliforniaRevue nationale de droit, volume XI, number 285

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FOX5 EXPERTS: Legal Aid Center Lawyer Examines Las Vegas Rent Rise | Local Sat, 09 Oct 2021 00:57:38 +0000

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) – Ryan McConnell is an attorney with the Consumer Rights Project at the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.

It focuses on issues between landlords and tenants and the FOX5 interview focused on the rising rents happening in the valley.

Basically, there is no law on the books that would prevent a landlord from increasing the rent by the amount they see fit, but there are things the tenant needs to do and know to make sure the landlord complies with it. the law.

McConnell’s advice to tenants who have been slapped with a heavy lease renewal is to be proactive: contact the landlord, remind him what a great tenant he has been, tell him how much he can afford and how he maintains the relationship. .

(Gai Phanalasy / FOX5)

Remind the landlord that the next tenant might not be that good.

McConnell says homeowners need to follow a new law some aren’t aware of. For those with a monthly lease, landlords must give 60 days notice before increasing the rent. This is a new law adopted during the last legislative session. It was previously 45 days. For weekly rentals, the owner must give 30 days notice.

McConnell says rent increases have been fairly widespread, not targeting poorer neighborhoods where people might have to pay because they don’t have the resources to relocate.

He believes the market will correct itself naturally as more and more people are forced to move. He hopes the lack of affordable housing will be addressed as more people move to Nevada.

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EU’s ‘toolbox’ against soaring energy prices – Thu, 07 Oct 2021 11:21:09 +0000

The European Commission is preparing a ‘toolbox’ of measures for EU governments to deal with the current soaring energy prices without harming the European single market. EURACTIV got its hands on the draft proposal.

EU heads of state will discuss the toolbox proposed by the Commission at a summit meeting on 21-22 October.

Here’s what he’ll understand – and what he probably won’t include.

“Targeted support” for low-income households

Faced with rising energy costs, the governments of Spain, France, Italy and Greece have announced measures to help low-income households pay their energy bills.

Emergency income support is considered uncontroversial by the European Commission, provided it is temporary and “targeted” on the poor.

The Commission document states that lump sum payments are generally preferable because they encourage households to reduce their energy consumption.

In addition, EU countries can introduce safeguards to ensure that no one is disconnected from the energy grid, said EU Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson.

Deferred payments of electricity bills are also listed in the draft toolkit as an opportunity to ease the burden on low-income households.

Tax breaks on electricity

Taxes and levies represent on average 41% of household electricity bills and 30 to 34% for industry, according to the disclosed document.

Suspension measures, like those put in place in Spain, are viewed favorably by Brussels, provided they are limited in time and targeted at the poor.

“Providing targeted support to consumers, direct payments to those most exposed to the risk of energy poverty, reducing energy taxes, transferring charges to general taxation, are all measures that can be taken very quickly, by under EU rules, “Commissioner Simson said in a speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday (October 6th).

State aid for small businesses

The European Commission will also look favorably on direct government assistance to the small businesses most affected by rising energy prices.

“Businesses and in particular SMEs can benefit from state aid or by facilitating longer-term power purchase agreements,” said Simson.

According to the disclosed proposal, such measures are acceptable as long as they do not distort competition and lead to fragmentation of the EU’s internal energy market.

Governments should also refrain from interfering with the EU’s carbon market, the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), he said.

Market surveillance and enforcement

To better anticipate emerging trends in the energy markets, the Commission proposes to strengthen the monitoring mechanisms, involving the national competition authorities and the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER).

To monitor the situation in the 27 EU Member States, Brussels will also propose the creation of a “Coordination Group on Energy Poverty and Vulnerable Consumers”.

“We have to make sure that markets operate in a fair and transparent manner. Competition authorities and national regulators with ACER have a role to play in monitoring the market and preventing uncompetitive practices, ”said Simson.

The EU executive warns that it will not hesitate to crack down on possible violations of EU competition rules.

Electricity market reform

Pressed by Spain and France, the European Commission has declared itself ready to examine a revision of the rules of the electricity market in order to decouple the price of electricity from the cost of gas.

Although gas only accounts for a fifth of electricity production in Europe, gas-fired power plants have become price determinants in the electricity market because they can be started in the short term to meet peak demand. demand.

“If the electricity prices are high, it is because of the high gas prices, and we have to look at the possibility of decoupling within the market because we have much cheaper energy like renewables,” said Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during a visit to Estonia on 5 October.

Yet the Commission seems reluctant to reopen the EU electricity market directives, which were revised almost three years ago. Rather, he proposes to launch an initiative to deepen cross-border regional cooperation in retail energy markets and to launch a study on the formation of electricity prices.

“There are no taboos but we must not forget that the EU’s energy system is the most reliable in the world,” Simson told EU lawmakers, adding that “there is no model alternative market “which would help lower prices in the current situation.

“We are ready to launch a study with ACER on the current design of the electricity market and its ability to ensure a safe and cost-effective transition to a net zero energy system,” said Simson.

EU member states are also encouraged to promote consumer rights, making it easier to switch providers in search of the best deal. And in the event of an energy company going bankrupt, EU governments will be asked to nominate a supplier of last resort.

Promote renewable energies and energy efficiency

Renewable electricity is currently the cheapest on the market, a point that the European Commission has repeatedly said since the start of the crisis.

EU countries are therefore urged to speed up authorization procedures for new wind and solar farms, with a new “guidance document” due out in 2022 to help member states identify best practices .

The Commission will also present a proposal to improve the energy efficiency of the European building stock, thereby helping to reduce the energy bills of building occupants.

Gas market reform

The European Commission will use a long-planned reform of EU gas market rules, expected in December, to examine “problems with storage and security of supply,” said Simson.

According to the leaked proposal, the next package will seek to empower consumers to choose renewable, low-carbon gases over fossil gases in order to shift the supply of imports from third countries to more decentralized, country-based production. the EU.

The Commission is also considering a new regulation establishing new regional cross-border gas risk groups focused on low-storage regions. The groups would analyze the risks for the next 5 years and give advice on risk management.

But the big idea – suggested by Spain – is a proposal to buy gas jointly as a means of building up stocks. This would allow the countries concerned to pool their forces and create strategic reserves which could be released in the event of an emergency. Participation in the scheme would be voluntary and designed so as not to distort competition in the energy market.

Commissioner Simson, however, expressed doubts about the idea, telling Parliament that “the complexity and practical obstacles have always outweighed the benefits” of joint public procurement.

On finance, the document says the Commission will present a proposal “complementary” to the EU’s green finance taxonomy which will focus on transitional technologies such as gas, without further details. A Commission proposal on taxonomy has been in the works for several months, but it is not known when it will be published or what it will contain.

Use of ETS revenues

Rising energy prices have pushed up the price of CO2 allowances on the European carbon market, the Emissions Trading System (ETS).

Since most of the ETS income goes back to the national state coffers, these can be used for direct support to households and SMEs, suggests the Commission.

“The immediate priority should be to mitigate social impacts and protect vulnerable households, ensuring that energy poverty does not worsen. Higher-than-expected ETS incomes provide space to do this, ”Simson told the European Parliament.

In the first nine months of the year, EU countries received an additional € 10.8 billion in ETS revenue compared to the same period in 2020, she noted.

In the longer term, the Commission has proposed a Social Climate Fund to protect citizens from rising carbon prices. “We will present by the end of the year a recommendation to provide the necessary policy guidance to ensure that Member States adequately address the social and employment consequences of the clean energy transition,” said Simson.

However, the Commission excludes any reform of the ETS to deal with the current crisis.

“Playing with the emissions trading system” would only have a “very small” impact on the current energy price crisis, EU climate chief Frans Timmermans said on Wednesday October 6.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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Australia Post and other delivery delays – your rights Wed, 06 Oct 2021 23:07:30 +0000

What do you get when you go through a global pandemic that disrupts freight and postal services around the world with a massive increase in online shopping? The answer: a lot of lost and delayed packages.

If this has happened to you, don’t panic. There are several things you can do to get compensation (although your safest bet is to order what you need well in advance).

You may be entitled to compensation in certain circumstances.

Can I get a refund if my package is delayed?

It depends. According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), if a business has accepted payment for an item, they must provide it to you on the date you specified or within a reasonable time (if no time limit has been specified. ).

But due to the supply chain and delivery delays caused by COVID-19, “a reasonable amount of time” is longer than usual these days.

While companies are not obligated to reimburse just because the product you purchased takes longer to arrive, you are entitled to compensation if they are no longer able to provide it.

Due to the supply chain and delivery delays caused by COVID-19, “a reasonable lead time” is longer than usual these days

You may also be eligible for compensation in certain circumstances.

“Australia Post and other providers will sometimes pay fees in limited circumstances,” says a representative of the Commonwealth Ombudsman, who handles consumer complaints about certain sectors of the postal industry – in particular Australia Post (including StarTrack), FedEx Australia (if the complaint refers to something that happened before April 2021), Check-Mates and D and D Mailing Services.

“For example, they may cover the cost of reissuing a passport required for urgent travel to replace one that cannot be located,” the representative explains.

How to make a complaint

Your first stop should be to try to resolve the issue with Australia Post or the courier company responsible for your package.

“Our advice to people facing a delivery delay is first to complain to the service provider”, specifies the mediator.

“If the supplier does not give them a timely or satisfactory answer, the consumer can contact the Office [of the Ombudsman] Make a complaint.

Our advice to people experiencing a delay in delivery is first to complain to the service provider

Commonwealth Ombudsman

“Ultimately, a delayed item may be declared lost, in which case a consumer may be entitled to compensation under Australian Consumer Law or if they have purchased additional coverage.”

Australia Post encourages its customers to contact them at if they have delivery issues. In many cases, they will compensate for a lost item if its value is $ 100 or less. For anything more expensive, Australia Post recommends that you purchase additional coverage before sending the package.

Contact the retailer

The ACCC also suggests that you contact the company providing the package you were supposed to receive, as a company has an obligation to provide the goods and services you paid for.

While the company itself is not responsible for the loss of a package if the loss is the fault of Australia Post or another courier, many companies will be happy to work with their customers to find a satisfactory solution.

influx of parcels from online shopping

Border closures and staff shortages have had an effect on deliveries.

Why are the packages so delayed at this time?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused all kinds of delays across the country (and around the world).

Whether it’s international and interstate border closures, postal and shipping facility closures due to COVID exposures, or staff shortages due to isolation or other health requirements, all had an effect on deliveries.

The pressure on the system has become so acute that in early September Australia Post suspended all services to e-commerce retailers in NSW, Victoria and ACT in an attempt to clear the backlog.

The rise of online shopping

To complicate matters further, Australians are shopping online more than ever. In fact, in 2020, more than four in five Australian households (nearly nine million in total) purchased online – a trend that continued to grow in 2021.

“Last December we delivered 52 million parcels, the biggest month in Australia Post’s history,” an Australia Post spokesperson told CHOICE. “That was passed in August of this year and early indications are that this Christmas will be our biggest yet.”

All carriers under stress

And it’s not just Australia Post that’s feeling the pressure. Courier companies are also hampered by border closures and staff shortages caused by the pandemic.

In addition to all this, some workers go on strike to try to improve their working conditions. For example, at the end of August, 7,000 Toll employees left their jobs. Since then, workers at Star Track (owned by Australia Post) and FedEx have also gone on strike.

Will things get better before Christmas?

It seems unlikely. Much will depend on keeping NSW and Victoria on track for their respective COVID reopens, as well as sentiment among individual businesses and their workers.

Australia Post has announced plans to hire 5,000 more workers ahead of the busy Christmas season and expand weekend deliveries to new areas to meet demand, which could ease some of the pressure .

The system is still likely to be quite overloaded during the holiday season

But realistically, in light of the continuing pandemic and resulting border closures and staff shortages, the system is still likely to be quite overloaded during the holiday season.

In short, ordering your Christmas presents in advance is probably a wise decision.

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