Scope of Consumer and Debt Law
This manual is divided into six parts:
- Before You Begin: Read this first to understand how to find information about your client’s problems in this manual.
- Consumer Law: Common problems involving consumer law.
- Debt Law: Common problems involving debt law.
- Court: Issues relating to the court process in consumer and debt matters.
- Laws & Cases: Statutes, regulations and cases.
- Where to Get Help: Agencies and resources that may be useful in resolving consumer or debt law problems.
This manual is a problem-solving resource for legal advocates, paralegals and lawyers whose clients are having problems with consumer contracts and purchases or credit and debt issues.
Each topic has been set out in this problem-solving format:
- a list of common questions clients ask
- an outline of the relevant law
- suggestions for information gathering to solve the problem
- suggestions for solving the problem
Some topics also have a list of resources for further information.
The criteria for deciding on the content of this manual includes:
- Whether the information would provide entry-level advocates with realistic solutions for clients with consumer or debt problems.
- Whether alternative resources (including lawyers and government agencies, as well as other publications) are available. If so, we refer readers to those resources, listed in the sections on Agencies that Help and Other Resources.
In general, topics involving consumer contracts or credit and debt are covered in the most detail (for example, making a purchase or declaring bankruptcy). Other relevant topics (for example, court procedures) are covered in less detail because many other resources are available for both advocates and clients to find out more about these.
Some relevant topics that fall outside the scope of this manual include builders’ liens, residential tenancies, and enforcement of support payments.
The Consumer and Debt Laws section lists the federal and provincial statutes and regulations referred to in this manual. These statutes and regulations are all available online. Federal statutes and regulations are at laws.justice.gc.ca. BC legislation is posted at www.bclaws.ca. Both federal and BC legislation are also available on the CanLII website at www.canlii.org. Other online services such as Westlaw eCarswell’s LawSource are available for free at courthouse libraries around the province. To find a courthouse library near you, go to the website of Courthouse Libraries BC.
This manual contains limited references to case law, the written legal decisions of courts and tribunals. Over time, case law establishes principles that are used in understanding the law and deciding future cases. In many instances where common law (legal principles developed from decisions by judges, rather than from statutes or constitutions) is outlined, referring to case law would add unduly to the length of the publication. We include cases if they help to explain a legal principle, or if they provide a helpful precedent to resolve a client’s problem either in negotiations or in a court proceeding.
The Consumer and Debt Cases section lists case citations and provides links to those available on CanLII.
This manual does not contain a glossary of legal terms. We avoid legal terms wherever possible and explain the terms in the context of the topic. You may find a legal dictionary useful for general reference (see the section on Other Resources for some suggestions).