The Report of the Consumer Councils Small Claims Service for 2015 (Civil Enforcement Division) has been publicly released and the results show a considerable increase in the number of lawsuits drafted this year by the Consumer Council in comparison to previous years.
According to the data published by the Consumer Council, as part of small claims service in 2015, the Consumer Council has helped 696 consumers drafting indictments in small claims court against businesses that have prejudiced them. This is an increase of over 20% compared to 2014.
Out of the claims whom proceedings were completed by the date of preparation of the report, 98% have ended in favor of consumers, whether as part of a settlement between the parties or as final court decision.
The estimated amount returned to consumers in 2015, is around 1,150,000 NIS. Since the beginning of the project, in mid-2012, it is estimated that around 4,000,000 NIS have been reimbursed to consumers.
So far, since the beginning of the project, the Consumer Council has helped about 2,167 consumers get their money back. Every year, hundreds of lawsuits are filed; the service is provided free of charge. The lawsuits are drafted by a staff of experts who work for the Council for this purpose and who have been professionally trained in the broad and comprehensive field of consumer protection laws.
In the framework of the project, whenever a complaint is justified but the business still rejects the request drafted by the Ombudsman Department of the Consumer Council and refused to reimburse the consumer – the complaints are addressed to the civil enforcement team of the Council, in order to examine the existence of a cause of action and of the maturity of the file. If so, this team provides assistance in the drafting of a statement of claim for the consumer. As well known, in small claims court, the parties are not represented by lawyers and therefore the statement of claim drafted by the Consumer Council constitute the principal assistance for the consumers in the hearing itself.
In 2015, as well as in the three previous years, house and garden items, and especially furniture industry, are the main area for which the Council has helped consumers in drafting statements of claim. In 2015, house items represented 44% of all claims drafted by the Consumer Council and an increase in the number of claims that are been drafted in this field may be seen in comparison to last year. In the second place, the field of electrical appliances stars again this year, with 16% of all claims been drafted. Similarly to home and garden items, the field of home electric appliances has been stable for four years in the share of claims drafted by the Consumer Council (an average of 19%).
As above mentioned, the two major areas of the Consumer Council: electrical appliances and home and garden items, constitute 60% of all lawsuits the Consumer Council has drafted in 2015. The following areas are ranked following these two major areas: "Communication Services", "clothing, footwear and accessories" and "touristic services" (both domestic and foreign).
The claims regarding the field of living room furniture constitute 48% of the lawsuits. 44% of the lawsuits in the field of electricity concerned water purifiers, an area that stood out negatively this year, and in which the elderly have often been victims of a cynical exploitation.
Israel Consumer Council CEO, lawyer Mr. Ehud Peleg: "The small claims service is, among others, a powerful tool used by the Council and an additional deterrent to unfair businesses that use to prejudice against consumers. This way, the Council provides consumers with accessibility to small claims courts as a very friendly proceeding and removes the psychological barriers from consumers in submitting such lawsuits. 98% in the success of the claims that have ended this year indicate the effectiveness of the service offered to the consumer.