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Consumer rights not protected in Russia

September 25, 2013, 10:28 UTC+3
Experts believe that some legal provisions that would set clear-cut compensations for moral damage
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All plaintiffs received less than 15 million rubles (about $471 thousand) as compensations in the cases over the protection of consumer rights in the previous year. The average compensation has made just 1,700 rubles (about $53.5). So, nowadays moral and physical sufferings of Russian citizens cost next to nothing. Meanwhile, it is common practice in highly industrialized countries to raise big sums for moral damage, Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily noted.

Experts believe that some legal provisions that would set clear-cut compensations for moral damage will be able to improve the situation in Russia. Russian judges are guided just by subjective considerations when assessing moral sufferings so far.

On Tuesday, Director of the Institute of Strategic Analysis Financial and Accounting Consultants Igor Nikolayev presented a survey over ‘the economy of moral damage.’ The survey holds that the problem is that at the present time Russia lacks the officially approved methods to assess the sums of possible compensations. “By all appearances, the judges are responsible for many legal decisions. The standardization in setting the sums of compensations for moral damage that meant a softer subjectivism that, first, would facilitate considerably the work of judges, secondly, it would raise trust to the court rulings,” Nikolayev said with confidence.

The British Tariff Scheme is in effect since 1994. This scheme sets minimal compensations at 1,000 pounds and the maximum compensations at 20,000 pounds. The United States has set the upper level of compensations for moral damage. If the victim of the crime dies the inheritors can claim for no more than 250,000 dollars.

Nikolayev sites the statistics of the Russian consumer rights watchdog that in 2012 the courts levied about 266 million rubles (about $8.4 million) on the lawsuits for the protection of the rights of consumers, including more than 14.4 million rubles (about $452.6 thousand) for moral damage (5.4 percent). Most morally affected people were among the buyers, who claimed 3.9 million rubles (about $122.6 thousand) from the sellers. Moral and physical sufferings of dwellers were estimated at 2.1 million rubles (about $66,000). The courts levied 1.3 million rubles ($40.9 thousand) from dishonest suppliers of services. The average compensation of moral damage has made 1,700 rubles (about $53.5) in the previous year (1,600 rubles (about $50) in 2011). A patient of some hospital or some outpatient clinic received the largest compensation of 24,600 rubles (about $773), no more than 500-600 rubles (about $16-19) are levied in favour of discontent mobile communications subscribers.

Symbolic compensations for moral damage actually deadlock the situation. The suppliers of commodities and services have good reasons to hope that their clients will not make up their mind to waste their time on court proceedings. The companies in other countries cherish their reputation and seek to solve the problems with discontent clients out of court. Russian business has other priorities so far. “Therefore, the abuses continue, the level of satisfaction for goods and services by the consumers remains low,” Nikolayev added.

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