The Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act, Cremation, Interment and Funeral Services Act and, to some extent, the Motion Picture Act provide a variety of enforcement tools for Consumer Protection BC to use if a violation occurs under the legislation. Consumer Protection BC uses these tools in a progressive manner and in many cases uses them as a last resort if a business does not voluntarily comply with its obligations under the various Acts and associated Regulations.
The Acts give the enforcement inspectors authority to conduct inspections to determine compliance with the legislation. Enforcement inspectors are appointed Special Provincial Constable Status in the Province of BC.
It is an offence to obstruct, hinder or interfere with an investigation under the Act. It is also an offence to supply false or misleading information to a person acting under the legislation.
For the purposes of an inspection, the Director of Consumer Protection BC has the same powers that the Supreme Court has for the trial of civil actions. He/she may summon and compell witnesses to give evidence under oath and/or produce records. If a person fails to comply with the Director’s summons, he/she may be cited for contempt.
Enforcement inspectors routinely meet with business owners to discuss compliance-related issues and complaints. If warranted, they may send warning letters to business owners.
Consumer Protection BC works with businesses to seek voluntary compliance with the legislation through education and awareness. If the Director has reason to believe that a person is violating, is about to violate or has violated the Act or the Regulations, the Director may accept from the person a written undertaking (promise) that contains the terms and conditions the Director determines are appropriate in the circumstances.
If the business does not voluntarily comply with the legislation, the Director may issue a Compliance Order, which forces the business to comply with the Act.
If the Compliance Order is filed in the BC Supreme Court, it is enforceable as an order of the court.
Direct Sales Prohibition Orders
Consumer Protection BC can order a supplier engaging in “direct sales” to cease operating if there are grounds to believe that the conduct of the supplier is contrary to the public interest or if the supplier has violated the legislation.
Property Freezing Orders
The Director can issue a property freezing order for a person under inspection if the Director believes the order is advisable for the protection of those dealing with the person under inspection.
The Director can sue on the his/her own behalf, on behalf of consumers in general or on behalf of a designated class of consumers.
The Director can order restitution to consumers through a Compliance Order.
Consumer Protection BC can issue administrative penalties to those who fail to comply with the legislation. Administrative penalties are restricted to not more than $5000 for an individual and not more than $50,000 for a corporation. Have a look at our administrative penalties page for more information.
Charges Under the Act
Consumer Protection BC can prosecute a person who commits an offence under certain sections of the Act. A person who commits an offence under this Act is liable to a fine of not more than $10,000 or to imprisonment for not more than 12 months or to both. A corporation is liable to a fine of not more than $100,000.
Publication of Enforcement Actions
Consumer Protection BC publishes the results of completed enforcement files in a limited form using the enforcement search tool on our website. In addition, we may publish enforcement actions on our website as consumer alerts or information bulletins. Depending on the severity of the issue and public interest in it, Consumer Protection BC may also distribute the results to the media.