Singapore's 'Lemon Law' was passed in Parliament today.
It is expected to come into force from September 1 this year, to allow sufficient transition time for the industry.
Lemon laws refer to laws protecting consumers against defective goods that fail to conform to contract, or meet satisfactory quality or performance standards at the time of purchase, colloquially known as "lemons".
It comprises amendments to the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act (CPFTA), the Hire Purchase Act (HPA) and Road Traffic Act and covers all general consumer products purchased in Singapore (e.g. stationery, apparel, electronics, bedding, and big-ticket items such as motorcycles and cars).
The amendments will make the transactional process between buyer and seller more open and transparent, with clearer rules on the burden of proof, and more certainty about the recourses available.
With this in place, there will now be additional remedies beyond just rejecting the goods and getting a refund.
The retailer may first offer to repair or replace the defective good within a reasonable period of time and without significant inconvenience to the buyer. If this is not possible, the consumer may either keep the item and get a partial refund, or return the item and get a full refund.
The full refund amount will take into account the state of the good resulting from the consumer's use.
The Lemon Law will apply to defects found in goods up to the first six months, with the assumption that the defect already existed at the time of delivery, unless the retailer can prove otherwise or if the items have a short life span or consumable.
After six months, the consumer will need to prove that the defect existed at the time of delivery.
The Lemon Law would thus require retailers to ensure that their goods match their description as marketed and promoted. Descriptions include information and details on the good that can be found on the label, packaging, posters or any other print material, or given verbally by the sales representatives.
Retailers should also point out defects or limitations, if any, to the consumer before the consumer buys the good. They will not be held liable for defects which the consumer is proven to know about before he/she buys the goods.
To assist motor traders to defray costs and encourage them to offer replacements for lemon vehicles, the Ministry of Transport and the Land Transport Authority have also proposed amendments to the Road Traffic Act.
The amendment would allow the transfer of the Additional Registration Fee (ARF) and Certificate of Entitlement (COE) from a defective vehicle to a replacement vehicle, provided the defective vehicle meets a set of criteria.