A key remit of the Public Authority for Consumer Protection (PACP) is to protect consumers against unreasonable price fluctuation, improper goods and services, and to secure fair treatment and transparency for consumers in their dealings with suppliers and retailers. PACP monitors and inspects companies' sales policies and practices, as well as the quality of goods and services produced, supplied or sold by them to individual consumers.
In support of its objectives, PACP issued Decision No. 754/2014 in October 2014, stating that all documents provided to consumers upon the purchase of goods from suppliers or retailers must be available in Arabic, or accompanied by an Arabic translation. In the case of a contradiction between the two texts, the Arabic version will prevail, unless the parties have agreed otherwise.
We understand that the decision will apply to each category of document involved in a sale to a consumer, such as labels, packages, list of contents, user instructions, catalogues, warranties and any terms limiting liability of the supplier or retailer. Since companies can no longer rely solely on the English text, they must ensure that all such documents are accurately translated into Arabic.
This decision obliges all local agents, distributors and retailers in the Sultanate of Oman to ensure that their principals, manufacturers and suppliers abide by this new law. A two-year grace period has been granted to enable all to comply fully with the new requirement. The decision was published in November 2014, and so takes effect in early November 2016.
Any local agent, distributor or retailer who fails to provide Arabic language documents with its goods and services sold to consumers will risk being subjected to a fine up to RO 5,000 (Five Thousand Omani Rial) per violation. They further risk having non-compliant products confiscated and the business shut down. It will be the responsibility of the local agent, distributor or retailer to seek to recover its losses, if possible, from the principal, manufacturer or retailer.
It is clear from this new law that the Government of Oman, through PACP, is focused on continuing to improve consumer rights in the Sultanate.