Today was published in the Official Gazette Resolution No. 139/2020 of the Ministry of Internal Trade under the authority of Ministry of Productive Development, effective from the day of its publication, May 28th 2020.
Firstly, “hyper-vulnerable consumers” are defined as those human consumers who are in vulnerable situations because of their age, gender, physical or mental condition, or because of social, economic, ethnic and/or cultural circumstances, which make it particularly difficult for them to fully exercise their rights as consumers. Likewise, it also includes non-profit legal entities that direct their social objectives to groups that include persons in vulnerability situations by virtue of the above-mentioned characteristics.
- What are the parameters for determining hypervulnerability?
The resolution sets out certain conditions under which a cause could be considered “hypervulnerable” or certain people could be considered “hypervulnerable consumers”, namely:
- Claims involving the rights or interests of children and adolescents;
- People belonging to the group LGBT+;
- People over 70 years old;
- People with disabilities with an accrediting certificate;
- Migrants or tourists;
- People belonging to indigenous people;
- Residence in popular neighborhoods according to Act No. 27.453;
- Socio-economic vulnerability situations accredited by any of the following requirements: (i) be a retiree, pensioner or worker in a dependent relationship who receives a gross remuneration less than or equal to TWO Minimum Vital and Mobile Wages (“MVMW”); (ii) be a single contributor registered in a category whose annual mensualized income does not exceed TWO times the MVMW; (iii) be the beneficiary of a non-contributory pension and receive a gross monthly income not exceeding TWO times the MVMW; (iv) be in receipt of the pregnancy allocation or the universal child allocation; (v)
be enrolled in the Social Single Tax Regime; (vi) be registered with the Special Social Security Regime for Domestic Servants; (vii) be receiving unemployment insurance; (viii) be in receipt of a Veterans’ Life Pension.
- What are the consequences for the COPREC process, the Single Federal Window and the National Consumer Arbitration System?
The Resolution instructs the Undersecretariat for Consumer Protection Actions (the “Undersecretariat”) to take the necessary measures for the implementation of this resolution, which should take into consideration objectives such as guidance, advice and support for hyper-vulnerable consumers in lodging complaints within the framework of consumer relations, the promotion of actions to encourage effective and expeditious procedures for the resolution of conflicts involving hyper-vulnerable consumers, the implementation of measures to mitigate and eliminate obstacles to access to justice for hyper-vulnerable consumers, among others.
It should be noted that, with regard to conciliation processes in consumer relations, the Undersecretariat shall provide measures to (i) identify the claims of hyper-vulnerable consumers filed at the Single Federal Window for Consumer Defense, the Prior Conciliation Service in Consumer Relations (“COPREC”) and the National Consumer Arbitration System (“SNAC”); (ii) facilitate reasonable adjustments for the full exercise of rights of hyper-vulnerable consumers in administrative proceedings; (iii) articulate the intervention of the Free Legal Sponsorship Service; (iv) make informal arrangements with suppliers identified in claims for the proper resolution of conflicts of hyper-vulnerable consumers, among others.
These measures are intended to give priority and free attention to hypervulnerable consumers. However, we will have to wait for the implementation of these measures to understand in more detail how the rights of hypervulnerable consumers will be guaranteed.
- Guiding Principles for Processes Involving Hypervulnerable Consumers
Finally, the resolution establishes two guiding principles to be adopted by the suppliers reported in cases of hypervulnerability or involving hypervulnerable consumers:
- Accessible Language: firstly, it provides that these procedures must be carried out in accessible language, that is, that all communication must use clear, colloquial language, expressed in a plain, concise, understandable and appropriate to the conditions of the consumers.
- Enhanced duty to cooperate: suppliers must behave in such a way as to ensure the proper and rapid resolution of the conflict by providing all possible assistance.
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