Regarding consumer protection in ROK, the government enacted the Consumer Protection Act in Industries Including E-Commerce in 2002 to promote consumer protection in e-commerce. Consumers who purchase goods online are more likely to be concerned with the preservation of electronic records of relevant documents, the misuse of electronic documents due to lack of experience, and newly emerging issues in advertising, shipping, prepayment and so on. Regarding such issues, Consumer Protection Act in Industries Including E-Commerce provides institutional tools to prevent possible consumer harm.
The trend of consumer disputes differs from that of the continuous expansion of electronic commerce. In 2014, a total of 2,165 cases of consensus recommendation and reconciliation among electronic dispute settlement committees received on electronic documents and electronic trade dispute settlement committees, decreasing by 50.1 percent from the previous year. These statistics have led to speculation that Korea’s consumer protection policy is having a positive effect. Of course, consumer dispute statistics are only one of the indicators of the effectiveness of the consumer protection policy. However, considering that there is a large variation in the yearly consumer dispute statistics, it is too soon to make any definitive assessment. Of the 2,165 dispute cases, 2,134 (98.6 percent) disputes were concluded by Secretariat Recommendation, while 31 cases (1.4 percent) were concluded through the Coordination Department. At the Secretariat Recommendation stage, 1,787 disputes were 112 • Korea’s E-Commerce Policy Experiences concluded with the agreement of all parties, with the remaining 347 cases being rejected by the parties. The number of cases in which the disputing parties accepted the amendment was 27, along with four cases in which the parties did not accept the amendment. ##MORE_LAYER_BOX##
[2014 Recommendation to Coordinate and Status of Coordination]
The dispute settlement rate in 2014 was 83.8 percent, down by 2.8 percentage points from 86.6 percent in the previous year. The dispute resolution rate by the Secretariat was 83.7 percent, while the dispute resolution rate of the Arbitration Department was 87.1 percent. The rate of dispute resolution via Secretariat Recommendation decreased by 2.9 percentage points from the previous year, while the rate of dispute settlement via adjustment of the coordinator increased by 8.7 percentage points from the previous year. The rate of dispute settlement by the Arbitration Department has been increasing gradually every year since 2010, seemingly due to the Arbitration Department’s success in establishing a reasonable level of reconciliation that can be accepted by the parties. ##MORE_LAYER_BOX##
[The Trends of Dispute Resolution per Year]
In an effort to relieve the damages caused to consumers, arising due to the unprecedented issues emerging in the e-commerce industry and the major differences between e-commerce and offline commerce, the Korean government enacted Act on the Consumer Protection in Electronic Commerce in 2002. This Act established institutional measures for addressing these new issues. The most notable provision of the Act is Article 17, which addresses the issue of contract termination. This provision enables consumers to terminate contracts with vendors within seven days of purchasing goods or services. It also allows for the adoption of an escrow system and establishment of the E-Commerce Mediation Committee, tasked with protecting consumers from the potential harms inherent in e-commerce. In order to obtain consumers’ trust in e-commerce, developing countries should also adopt subscription withdrawal measure as well as escrow system and establish organizations such as Electronic Trade Dispute Settlement Committee that can alleviate consumer harm in e-commerce.