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Fighting Your Own Consumer Case Can Save Money & Time: Here’s How You Can Do it!

One of the most daunting things about litigation is hiring a lawyer and going through the process of filing the case. As consumers, we often push back on filing a consumer complaint only to save ourselves the hassle of long-drawn litigation.

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Representative image of a court scene taken from the movie Shahid. Source 

How many times have you received bad service, or bought a faulty product? Can you recall the thoughts that went through your mind as you made the buying decision or those that stop you from doing something about it? Most likely, it is your reservations in getting involved with the legal system.

One of the most daunting things about litigation is hiring a lawyer and going through the process of filing the case. As consumers, we often push back on filing a consumer complaint only to save ourselves the hassle of long-drawn litigation. Imagine if you could do it yourself; i.e., fight your case. Who could present your case in a better manner?

Did you know that it is not mandatory to hire the services of a lawyer to file a consumer complaint?

If you wish to fight your case, here’s what you need to do:

Before filing a consumer complaint, it is advisable that you send a notice to the service provider or the registered company detailing the lacunae in the product/service. If there is no response them within a stipulated period, file a consumer complaint.

These guidelines can be of help:

1. Make a note of what went wrong, preferably in chronological order. Include the following details:

a) Name and address of the complainant
b) Name and address of the party against whom the complaint is being lodged, whether it is the physical shop or an online portal
c) Date on which the product/service was bought
d) Amount paid for the same
e) The nature of the defect in the product/service

2. Give a detailed account of why the product/service is defective and how that has impacted you.

3. Make copies of all the documents that will be submitted to support your case.

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3. In this complaint, it is also essential that you mention the relief that you are seeking.

Source

Consumer forums are quasi-judicial tribunals (or non-judicial bodies that can interpret the law) brought into existence to render inexpensive and speedy remedies to consumers and therefore encourage them to come forward and fight their own case. While you do this, it is also important that you file your case in the right forum. The court fee is different for each forum, and it is essential that you pay the same before filing the case. Do remember that the court fee needs to be paid via demand draft.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. District Forum: Each district has its own forum where claims of up to Rs 20 lakh can be filed.

Court fee:
For claims of up to Rs 1 lakh (for Antyodaya Anna Yojana card holders): Nil
For claims of up to Rs 1 lakh: Rs 100
For claims between Rs 1 lakh and Rs 5 lakh: Rs 200
For claims between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 10 lakh: Rs 400
For claims between Rs 10 lakh and Rs 20 lakh: Rs 500

2. State Commission: The State Commission hears cases
-where the value of the claim is between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 1 crore
-and those cases within the state, which are appeals against the District Forum’s decision

Court fee:
For claims between Rs 20 lakh and Rs 50 lakh: Rs 2,000
For claims between Rs 50 lakh and Rs 1 crore: Rs 4,000

3. National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC): This forum hears cases
-which are appeals against the decision of the State Commission
-and those in which the claimed sum exceeds Rs 1 crore

Court fee for claims above Rs 1 crore is Rs 5,000.

One of the reasons why the quality of products and services is high in the West is their highly efficient and consumer-friendly legal system. India too is taking the right steps to ensure justice to her consumers. We hope that increased consumer awareness and higher efficiency of the system will ensure a better consumer experience.

(Edited by Shruti Singhal)

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