Introduction to Consumer and Debt Law

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This manual from People's Law School is a problem-solving resource for legal advocates, paralegals and lawyers in British Columbia whose clients are having problems with consumer or debt issues.

The manual covers over 45 topics on problems people experience with consumer purchases, contracts, borrowing money, and being in debt. Each section is organized to help you understand and work through your client’s problem. We include sample client problems, explain the relevant law, point out what information you need from your client, and offer suggestions for solving your client's problem

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Copyright & disclaimer

Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence Consumer and Debt Law, © People's Law School is, except for the images, made available under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.

The 1996 to 2012 editions of Consumer Law and Credit/Debt Law (as it was then called) were published by the Legal Services Society.

At People's Law School, we believe accurate, plain English information can help people take action to work out their legal problems. This publication explains in a general way the law that applies in British Columbia, Canada. It is not intended as legal advice. Legal advice applies the law to an individual's specific situation. If you want assurance that any information is appropriate to your specific situation, or recommendations on next steps with a specific legal problem, please contact a legal professional. Some sources of legal help are highlighted in the Agencies that Help section.


People’s Law School

People's Law School

This manual is produced by People's Law School, a non-profit society in British Columbia, Canada dedicated to making the law accessible to everyone. We provide free education and information to help people effectively deal with the legal problems of daily life. Contact us at or visit us online at

Clicklaw Wikibooks

Clicklaw Wikibooks

Consumer and Debt Law is a Clicklaw Wikibook. Operated by Courthouse Libraries BC, Clicklaw Wikibooks provides a platform for collaboratively developed, plain language legal publications. The wiki technology enables easy updating and a highly accessible experience on the screen and in print. You might be accessing this page online on a computer, or by having downloaded a digital copy to your tablet or mobile, or by reading it in a print book at a public library. By supporting a range of digital and print formats, Clicklaw Wikibooks helps provide legal information for people in ways that meet their needs.

Contributors & acknowledgements


Writing and editing for the 2018 edition of Consumer and Debt Law was done by Linda Rainaldi and Drew Jackson. Layout and production was done by Elena Renderos.

Legal review

The 2018 edition of Consumer and Debt Law was reviewed for legal accuracy by Alison Ward. Alison is a lawyer at the Community Legal Assistance Society in Vancouver, where she runs a Law Foundation-funded program called the Community Advocate Support Line. She provides legal advice and support to community-based advocates in BC who assist clients with poverty law and family law problems. Alison was previously a staff lawyer at the Legal Services Society (1994 – 2010) where she practiced poverty law and family law.


This manual was made possible through the financial support of the Law Foundation of BC, the Notary Foundation of BC, the Department of Justice Canada, and the Province of British Columbia.


The 2018 edition of Consumer and Debt Law is dedicated to the late Allan Parker, QC. Allan was a respected lawyer, teacher, mentor and friend to poverty lawyers, paralegals and community advocates. He worked tirelessly to improve access to justice for the disadvantaged. Allan was pivotal in the development and updating of this publication. His many contributions to legal aid and pro bono work in BC will always be appreciated.