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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Dr Gretchen Larsen

Larsen, G. & Lawson, R. (2013). Consumer Rights: An Assessment of Justice. Journal of Business Ethics 112(3): 515-528.

Author(s) from Durham


For the last 50 years the idea of consumer rights has formed an essential element in the formulation of policy to guide the workings of the marketplace. The extent and coverage of these rights has evolved and changed over time, yet there has been no comprehensive analysis as to the purpose and scope of consumer rights. In moral and ethical philosophy, rights are integrally linked to the notion of justice. By reassessing consumer rights through a justice-based framework, a number of key issues emerge regarding the way in which markets enable justice for consumers. The consumer rights which underpin the United Nations consumer protection guidelines address all forms of justice to some degree, but the predominant focus is on procedural justice. Our conclusions question whether this is sufficient and also whether there is a case to develop the notion of consumer ‘duties’ that complement the idea of rights.