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Publicity, punishment and protection: the role(s) of adverse publicity in consumer policy

Cartwright, Peter

Authors

Peter Cartwright

Abstract

This paper argues that adverse publicity can fulfil two crucial roles in consumer protection law and policy. First, it can operate as an effective regulatory sanction in its own right; secondly it can play a vital role in helping consumers to exert market discipline by making informed choices about suppliers. However, there are significant risks to using adverse publicity to achieve these ends and it is imperative that any regulatory regime addresses these. Studying this topic now is particularly important for three main reasons. First, there has been widespread recognition that the regulatory offence, typically backed up with fines, is not the most effective form of sanction. More flexible, targeted and responsive options are required. Secondly, there is now ample evidence that regulated information, for example in the form of mandatory disclosure, frequently fails to help consumers to make fully informed choices. Finally, there are some highly significant very recent examples of enforcers using publicity in ways that can be viewed both as a sanction and as an information tool. The need to sanction responsively and to bolster consumer sovereignty demonstrates the potential for adverse publicity as a tool of consumer protection policy.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 9, 2012
Journal Legal Studies
Print ISSN 0261-3875
Electronic ISSN 1748-121X
Publisher Cambridge University Press (CUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 2
Institution Citation Cartwright, P. (2012). Publicity, punishment and protection: the role(s) of adverse publicity in consumer policy. Legal Studies, 32(2), doi:10.1111/j.1748-121X.2011.00212.x
DOI https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-121X.2011.00212.x
Publisher URL http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1748-121X.2011.00212.x/abstract
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Cartwright, P. (2012), Publicity, punishment and protection: the role(s) of adverse publicity in consumer policy. Legal Studies, 32: 179–201, which has been published in final form at DOI: 10.1111/j.1748-121X.2011.00212.x. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0




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