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Harassment Or Coercion

By definition, harassment means persistent disturbance or tormenting and coercion involves actual or threatened force or compulsion that restricts a person’s choice or freedom to act. Harassment and coercion under
25 Dec 2016 11:00
Harassment Or Coercion

By definition, harassment means persistent disturbance or tormenting and coercion involves actual or threatened force or compulsion that restricts a person’s choice or freedom to act.

Harassment and coercion under the Commerce Commission Act 2010 (CCA2010) refers to the unlawful use of physical force or unduly harass someone about the supply of, or payment for, goods or services.

Undue harassment means unnecessary or excessive contact or communication with a person, to the point where that person feels intimidated, tired or demoralised.

Coercion involves force (actual or threatened) that restricts another person’s choice or freedom to act.

Unlike harassment, there is no requirement for behaviour to be repetitive in order to amount to coercion.

 

Examples of Harassment

and coercion?

Financial institutions, money lenders and other credit providers are entitled to attempt to collect debts but their conduct may be undue harassment or coercion when it involves frequent unwelcome approaches and requests or threats for payment.

Laws relating to privacy, harassment and misleading or deceptive conduct apply to all businesses – including debt collection agencies.

 

Example: 1

A woman went into arrears on her credit card debt when she lost her job and had to care for her ill mother. The bank sold the debt to a debt collection company.

The company told the woman that, if she left Fiji, she would not be able to return while the debt was unpaid.

The company also obtained details and other information about the woman’s family.

They did this by contacting her friend, pretending the woman had applied for a home loan and seeking information to verify her home loan application.

The company used this information to embarrass the woman and continued to call her, despite her request that they contact her through her financial counsellor.

The company’s actions would be considered harassment.

 

Example: 2

A retirement village was sold by its owners. This led to a change in management. During the transfer of ownership, an energy company salesperson visited residents.

The door-to-door salesperson explained to all residents that because the management of the complex was changing, their power would be cut off unless they changed energy supplier.

This would have to happen immediately to maintain their power supply.

Almost all of the residents signed with the new supplier. This created confusion for the residents, causing issues with payment plans, concessions, and multiple bills.

The salesman’s statements could be considered coercion.

 

Example: 3

Some private parking stations have been known to engage in undue harassment or coercion when imposing “fines” on people for not displaying tickets or parking contrary to signs in their carparks.

The harassing behaviour may include issuing notices that mimic legitimate council or government fine notices, threatening legal action without proper authority, and harassing people to pay.

 

Example: 4

A publishing company sent correspondences to businesses that led them to believe they had agreed to advertise in certain dailies when in fact they hadn’t.

They were then asked to sign documents to obtain free copies of the dailies, and were then told that the document they’d signed was an agreement to buy advertising.

The company used harassment and coercion to pursue payment, including threatening legal proceedings.

The publishing company and its director were ordered to pay heavy penalties after they admitted they had engaged in conduct that included harassment and coercion.


Next Week: The Shopper’s Guide


This is a weekly column compiled by the Fiji Commerce Commission in the hopes of raising awareness on what the FCC does so people can benefit from developing a better understanding. For more information/details on Fiji Commerce Commission and Commerce Commission Decree 2010, visit our website on http://www.commcomm.gov.fj or join their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/commcomm.gov.fj

 

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