Consumer law from a public law outlook

The purpose of this paper is to outline the rationale for consumer policy-making from a public law outlook. While regulation of consumer markets is usually seen as a matter of civil law, consumer policy-making is part of public law, and its regulatory objectives and instruments are mainly based on public law remedies, and not private law principles. The paradigm shift from civil law to public law allows the regulatory authorities to have a greater diversity of intervention options, without the usual constraints and objections based on private law.

In this scenario, regulatory objectives in consumer law can be accomplished using ex ante and ex post intervention strategies. This paper proposes a framework of standards and policy tools for regulation on consumer markets, based on supply and demand-side remedies – that is, interventions affecting suppliers’ behavior or consumption through consumer decision-making – reviewed from a public law perspective.