The UK Parliamentary Select Committee Report

The offence of blasphemy, last successfully prosecuted in the UK in 1977, has now been abolished. However, an analysis of the offence is instructive and the history leading up to its abolition will be briefly recounted. Following a 1985 report by the Law Commission, which concluded that the offence should be repealed, and a similar recommendation by the UN Human Rights Committee, in 2002, the House of Lords appointed a Select Committee ‘to consider and report on the law relating to religious offences’. The Report did not offer a conclusion regarding the law of blasphemy, but offered several possible options for reform which will be discussed later. The report, in its approach to religious freedom, mostly encompasses the identity aspect of religious freedom rather than its expres­sive-critical aspect, as will be seen in the following discussion.

In its analysis of the law under the Human Rights Act 1998, the Committee saw in the prohibition a contravention of freedom of expression (Article 10) and of the obligation not to discriminate in the application of the right to religious freedom (Articles 9 to 14). It thus looked at the equality of protection of religious freedom of the members of groups, which the blasphemy laws either did or did not protect. The Report did not consider religious freedom as a critical- expressive right, the religious freedom of the blasphemer, which is impaired by blasphemy laws.

The Select Committee suggested three options for reform the offence of blas­phemy, without choosing between them: ‘leave as is’, repeal, or replace with a broader offence. The reasoning behind each of the approaches reveals more of a community-identity approach than an expressive-critical approach to religious freedom. One reason for the first option, leaving the law unchanged, was that blasphemy law was part of the legal fabric; this reasoning underscores the law’s constitutional heritage and national identity, which should be tampered with only for weighty reasons. This is a viewpoint that sits squarely within the community perception of the right to religious freedom.

Under the reasons in support of the ‘repeal’ option, the Report stressed that the common law offence of blasphemy was discriminatory as it protected only one religion. The Report also stated that the most serious deficiency of the blasphemy offence is that UK courts had interpreted the offence as one of strict liability. The Report did not directly ask, however, whether any offence of blasphemy would be commensurate with respect for religious freedom. An expressive-critical approach would raise this question and answer it by noting that a blasphemy offence is incommensurate with the right to religious freedom.

Under the option of replacement of the offence with a broader, non-discriminatory provision, the Report suggested the use of the Indian Penal Code provisions as a starting point, particularly Article 295A, which states:

Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of citizens of India, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, insults or attempts to insult the religion or religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprison­ment… or with a fine, or with both.

The Indian Supreme Court viewed this Article as commensurate with the Indian Constitution’s provisions of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The Indian approach, as the Report itself noted, is based on the uppermost con­sideration of preventing religious strife in a particular political context. The Report envisioned problems with such a law, namely potential misuse for political prose­cutions (which it did, however, see as unlikely to occur in the UK) and the difficulty of defining hurt to religious feelings.

Yet the more basic objection should stem from a view of religious freedom that sees the value of this right in the freedom to criticize and debate issues of religion and belief. Even deliberately insulting speech is not necessarily without merit; some effective conveying of religious ideas for and against religions is deliberately provocative and insulting. There is, however, speech that effectively silences, through propagation of hate or intimidation, members of a religious group from expressing their own voice and enjoying their rights as equal citizens. This speech should be more narrowly defined and is better addressed through prohibitions on hate speech.

International Institute for the Unification of Private Law

I. Brief Introduction of UNIDROIT

The international Institute for the Unification of Private Law, also known as UNIDROIT, set up in 1926 as an auxiliary organ of the League of Nations; the Institute was, following the demise of the League, re-established in 1940 on the basis of a multilateral agreement, the UNIDROIT Statute. Its seat is in Rome, Italy.

UNIDROIT is an independent intergovernmental organization. Its purpose is to study needs and methods for modernizing, harmonizing, and coordinating private international law and in particular commercial law between states, and to draft international Conventions to address the needs. Moreover, UNIDROIT has to prepare gradually for the adoption by the various states of Uniform rules of private law such as preparing draft of law and conventions with the object of establishing uniform internal law, preparing draft of agreement with a view of facilitating international relations in the field of private law, undertaking studies in comparative private law, taking an interest in project already undertaken in any of these fields by other institution with which it may maintain relations as necessary, organizing conferences and publishing works which the institute considers worthy of wide circulation.

What is the organizational structure of Unidroit like? What is the legislative policy of Unidroit? What are the achievements of Unidroit? Does Unidroit play important role in International law?

II. Membership of UNIDROIT

Unidroit member States are drawn from the five continents and represent a variety of different legal, economic and political systems as well as different cultural backgrounds. In order to be a Unidroit member, states have to accede to the Unidroit Statute.

Moreover, the obligation of member states is to pay the premise to support the yearly expenditure relating to the operation and maintenance of the Institute. In particular, the ordinary basic contribution of the Italian Government, the promoter of the Institute, as approved by the Italian Parliament, which that Government declares to be set, as from 1985, at 300 million Italian lire per annum, a figure which may be revised at the end of each period of three years by the law approving the budget of the Italian State, as well as the ordinary annual contributions of the other participating Governments.

Nowadays, there are 61 member states such as Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Columbia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holy See, Hungary, India, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Serbia, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, The United States of America, Uruguay and Venezuela.

III. Organizational Structure of UNIDROIT

Unidroit structured is categorized into six organs, a General Assembly, A president, a Governing Council, a Permanent Committee, an Administrative Tribunal, and a Secretariat. However, the main three-tier organs that play mighty crucial role in UNIDROIT operation are a Secretariat, a Governing Council and a General Assembly.

1. General Assembly

The General Assembly is the ultimate decision making organ of Unidroit. The General Assembly consists of one representative from each of the participating government. The diplomatic representative or persons deputed by the participating member shall accredit to the Italian Government.

The Assembly should be convened in Rome by the president at least once a year to approve the annual accounts of income and expenditure and the budget in ordinary session. The general Assembly has to approve the work program of the Institute on the basis of a proposal by the Governing Council and, in appropriate cases pursuant to paragraph 4 of Article 16, revise by a majority of two thirds of the Members present and voting the resolutions adopted in accordance with paragraph 3 of the said Article 16.

The member of Unidroit is classified into different categories base on the yearly contribution of each country. The classification will be determined by a resolution through 2/3 vote of General Assembly. Also, the classification is concerning with the national income of the country.

Nonetheless, the classification of the member will be revised every 3 years by further resolution. The resolution of the General Assembly adopted in accordance with the classification shall be notified to each participating government by the Italian government.

During a period of one year following the notification, each participating Government may put forward objections against resolutions concerning its classification for consideration at the next session of the General Assembly. The Assembly shall give its decision by means of a resolution, adopted by a majority of two thirds of the Members present and voting, which shall be notified by the Italian Government to the participating Government concerned. The Latter Government shall, however, have the option of withdrawing from membership of the Institute.

The participating government that is arrear in payment the premise more than 2 years, will lose the right to vote in the General Assembly owing to the premise is very important financial support and necessary to operate the work within the organization.

Institute establish a Working Capital Fund in purpose of which is to meet current expenditure, pending the receipt of the contribution payable by the participating government, and to meet unforeseen expenditure. Furthermore, it must deem with Unidroit regulation, and adopted by 2/3 majority vote by the general assembly.

2. Governing Council

The Governing Council supervises all policy aspects of the means by which the Institute’s statutory objectives are to be attained and in particular the Secretariat’s carrying out of the Work Program, the drawing up of which is its responsibility. It is made up of one ex officio member, the President of the Institute, and 25 elected members, typically eminent judges, practitioners, academics and civil servants.

The 25 members are elected, and some may be appointed by the General Assembly, and one other member is chosen from among the judges in office of the International Court of Justice. The president and members of the Governing Council shall hold office for a term of five years which shall be renewable. The president of Governing Council is appointed by the Italian Government In case there is a replacement of membership, a member of Governing Council shall hold office for the remainder of the term of his or her predecessor. The Governing Council shall be convened by the President whenever he or she considers it expedient and in any case at least once a year.
The Governing Council may invite representatives of international institutions or organizations to take part in its meetings, in a consultative capacity, whenever the work of the institute deals with subjects which are the concern of those institutions or organizations.

Any participating Government, as well as any international institutions of an official nature, is entitled to set before the Governing Council proposals for the study of questions relating to the unification, harmonization or coordination of private law. Therefore the Governing Council shall decide any action to be taken on proposals and suggestions made in this way. The Governing Council may refer the study of particular questions to commissions of jurists who have specialized knowledge of those questions. The commissions shall, as far as possible, be presided over by members of the Governing Council. Following the completion of the study of questions in which it has engaged, the Governing Council has to approve any preliminary drafts to be submitted to Governments if appropriate. It shall communicate such drafts to the participating Governments or the institutions or associations which have made proposals or suggestions to it, asking them for their opinion on the expediency and the substance of the provisions. In the light of the answers received, the Governing Council, if appropriate, approves final drafts. It communicates these to the Governments and to the institutions or associations which have made proposals or suggestions to it. The Governing Council shall then consider the steps to be taken to convene a diplomatic Conference to examine the drafts.

3. The Secretariat

The Secretariat is the executive organ of UNIDROIT responsible for the day-to-day carrying out of its Work Program. It is run by a Secretary-General, who is appointed by the Governing Council on the nomination of the President of the Institute. The Secretary-General is assisted by a staff of international civil servants and various ancillary staff.

The Secretariat consists of a Secretary-General appointed by the Governing Council on the nomination of the President, two Deputy Secretaries-General of different nationalities also appointed by the Governing Council, and the officers and employees provided for in the rules governing the administration of the Institute and its internal operations. The Secretary-General and the Deputy Secretaries-General are appointed for a period which shall not exceed five years. They shall be eligible for reappointment. The Secretary-General of the Institute shall be ex officio Secretary of the General Assembly.

The Secretariat welcomes qualified staff from Member States to work or intern who are either required to carry out an internship with an international organization or as part of their university studies or wish to acquire experience within an organization such as UNIDROIT
The official languages are Italian, English, French, German and Spanish.

4. The President

The President is a representative of the institution. Usually, the president is elected by the General Assembly in other international organization, and also the president of Unidroit. The president has no executive power, but the Governing Council. The president has 5 years term.

5. A Permanent Committee

The Permanent Committee shall consist of the President and five members appointed by the Governing Council from among its own members. Members of the Permanent Committee shall hold office for five years and shall be eligible for re-election. The Permanent Committee shall be convened by the President whenever he or she considers it expedient and in any case at least once a year.

6. An Administrative Tribunal

The Administrative Tribunal has jurisdiction to deal with any dispute between the Institute and its officers or employees, or those entitled to claim through them, with particular regard to the interpretation or application of the Staff Regulations. Any dispute arising from contractual relations between the Institute and third parties shall be submitted to the Tribunal, provided that its jurisdiction is expressly recognized by the parties in the contract giving rise to the dispute.
The Tribunal consists of three full members and one substitute, chosen from outside the Institute and preferably of different nationalities. They shall be elected for five years by the General Assembly. Any vacancy on the Tribunal is filled by cooption.

The Tribunal arrives at its decisions, which shall be without appeal, by applying the provisions of the Statute and of the Regulations as well as the general principles of law. It may also decide ex aequo et bono when such power has been given to it by an agreement between the parties. The President of the Tribunal considers that a dispute between the Institute and one of its officers or employees is of very limited importance, he or she may decide it or may entrust the decision to a single judge of the Tribunal by adopting its own rules of procedure.

IV. Legislative Policies

1. Nature of instruments drawn up by UNIDROIT

Unidroit’s basic statutory objective is to prepare modern and where appropriate harmonized uniform rules of private law understood in a broad sense. However, experience has demonstrated the necessity of permitting occasional incursions into public law, especially in areas of law where hard and fast lines of demarcation are difficult to draw or where transactional law and regulatory law are intertwined. Uniform rules prepared by UNIDROIT are concerned with substantive law rules; they will only include uniform conflict of law rules incidentally.

2. Technical approach to harmonization or unification favored by UNIDROIT

Unidroit’s independent status amongst intergovernmental Organizations has enabled it to pursue working methods which have made it a particularly suitable forum for tackling more technical and correspondingly less political issues.

3. Factors determining eligibility of subjects for treatment

New technologies, commercial practices etc. call for new solutions and, where transactions tend to be transnational by their very nature, these should be harmonized, widely acceptable solutions. Generally speaking, the eligibility of a subject for harmonization or even unification will to a large extent be conditional on the perception of States being willing to accept change to their municipal law rules in favor of a new international solution on that subject. Legal and other arguments in favor of harmonization on a subject have accordingly to be weighed carefully against these considerations. Similar considerations will also determine the most appropriate sphere of application to be given to such rules that are whether they should be restricted to truly cross-border situations or relations or extended to cover also purely internal situations or relations.

4. Factors determining choice of instrument to be prepared

The uniform rules drawn up by UNIDROIT have, in keeping with its intergovernmental structure, traditionally tended to take the form of international Conventions, designed to apply automatically in preference to a State’s municipal law upon completion of all the formal requirements of that State’s domestic law for their entry into force. However, the low priority which tends to be accorded by Governments to the implementation of such Conventions and the time it therefore tends to take for them to enter into force have led to the increasing popularity of alternative forms of unification in areas where a binding instrument is not felt to be essential. Such alternatives include model laws which States may take into consideration when drafting domestic legislation on the subject covered or general principles addressed directly to judges, arbitrators and contracting parties who are however left free to decide whether to use them or not. Where the subject is not judged ripe for the drawing up of uniform rules, another alternative consists in the preparation of legal guides, typically on new business techniques, types of transaction or on the framework for the organization of markets both at the domestic and the international level. Generally speaking “hard law” solutions (i.e. Conventions) are needed where rules’ scope transcends the bi-polar relationship underlying ordinary contract law and where third parties’ or public interests are at stake as is the case in the law of property.

V. Working Method

1. Preliminary stage: use of study groups

Once a subject has been entered on Unidroit’s Work Program, the Secretariat, where necessary assisted by experts in the field, will draw up a feasibility study and/or a preliminary comparative law report designed to ascertain the desirability and feasibility of law reform. Where necessary and provided funding is available, an economic impact assessment study is carried out. The report, sometimes including a first rough draft of principles or such uniform rules, will then be laid before the Governing Council which, if satisfied that a case has been made out for taking action, will typically ask the Secretariat to convene a study group, traditionally chaired by a member of the Council, for the preparation of a preliminary draft Convention or one of the alternatives mentioned above. The membership of such study groups, made up of experts sitting in their personal capacity, is a matter for the Secretariat, which seeks to ensure as balanced a representation as possible of the world’s different legal and economic systems and geographic regions.

2. Intergovernmental negotiation stage

A preliminary draft instrument established by a study group will be laid before the Governing Council for approval, and advice as to the most appropriate further steps to be taken. Typically, in the case of a preliminary draft Convention, these will consist in its asking the Secretariat to convene a committee of governmental experts for the finalization of a draft Convention capable of submission for adoption to a diplomatic Conference. In the case of one of the alternatives to a preliminary draft Convention not suitable by virtue of its nature for transmission to a committee of governmental experts, the Council will be called upon to authorize its publication and dissemination by UNIDROIT in the circles for which it has been prepared.

Full participation in UNIDROIT committees of governmental experts is open to representatives of all UNIDROIT member States. The Secretariat may in addition invite such other States as it deems appropriate, notably in view of the subject-matter concerned, and the relevant international Organizations and professional associations to participate as observers. A draft Convention finalized by a committee of governmental experts will then be laid before the Governing Council for approval and advice as to the most appropriate further steps to be taken. Typically, where it judges that the draft Convention reflects a consensus as between the States which have participated in the committee of governmental experts and that it accordingly stands a good chance of adoption at a diplomatic Conference, these steps will consist in its authorization of the draft Convention’s transmission to a diplomatic Conference for adoption as an international Convention. Such a Conference will be convened by one of Unidroit’s member States.

3. Co-operation with other international Organizations

UNIDROIT maintains close ties of co-operation with its sister international Organizations, both intergovernmental and non-governmental, which in many cases take the form of co-operation agreements concluded at inter-Secretariat level.

By reason of its expertise in the international unification of law, UNIDROIT is moreover at times commissioned by such other Organizations to prepare comparative law studies and/or draft Conventions designed to serve as the basis for the preparation and/or finalization of international instruments in those Organizations.

4. Network of correspondents

Unidroit’s ability to obtain up-to-date information on the state of the law in all the various countries is essential to the pursuit of its statutory objectives. This information is sometimes difficult to obtain and UNIDROIT therefore maintains a network of correspondents in both member and non-member States, who are appointed by the Governing Council amongst academic and practicing lawyers.

VI. UNIDROIT Achievements

UNIDROIT has over the years prepared over seventy studies and drafts. Many of these have resulted in international instruments, including the following international Conventions and Model Laws, drawn up by Unidroit and – in the case of Conventions – adopted by a diplomatic Conferences convened by member States of UNIDROIT:

1. 1964 Convention relating to a Uniform Law on the Formation of Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (The Hague);

2. 1964 Convention relating to a Uniform Law on the International Sale of Goods (The Hague);

3. 1970 International Convention on the Travel Contract (Brussels);

4. 1973 Convention providing a Uniform Law on the Form of an International Will (Washington);

5. 1983 Convention on Agency in the International Sale of Goods (Geneva);

6. 1988 UNIDROIT Convention on International Financial Leasing (Ottawa);

7. 1988 UNIDROIT Convention on International Factoring (Ottawa);

8. 1995 UNIDROIT Convention on Stolen or Illegally Exported Cultural Objects (Rome);

9. 2001 Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment (Cape Town);

10. 2001 Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters specific to Aircraft Equipment (Cape Town);

11. 2007 Luxembourg Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters specific to Railway Rolling Stock (Luxembourg).

UNIDROIT has prepared:

1. Model Franchise Disclosure Law (2002);

2. Principles of International Commercial Contracts (1994; enlarged edition 2004);

3. Principles of Transnational Civil Procedure (in co-operation with ALI) (2004)
Moreover, UNIDROIT has published:

1. Guide to International Master Franchise Arrangements (1998).

Unidroit’s work has also served as the basis for a number of international instruments adopted under the auspices of other international organizations which are already in force. These include:

1. 1954 Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in Case of War (adopted under the auspices of UNESCO);

2. 1955 European Convention on Establishment (Council of Europe);

3. 1955 Benelux Treaty on Compulsory Insurance against Civil Liability in respect of Motor Vehicles (Council of Europe);

4. 1956 Convention on the Contract for the International Carriage of Goods by Road (CMR) (UN/ECE);

5. 1958 Convention concerning the recognition and enforcement of decisions relating to maintenance obligations towards children (Hague Conference on Private International Law);

6. 1959 European Convention on Compulsory Insurance against Civil Liability in respect of Motor Vehicles (Council of Europe);

7. 1962 European Convention on the Liability of Hotel-keepers concerning the Property of their Guests (Council of Europe);

8. Protocol No. 1 concerning rights in rem in Inland Navigation Vessels and Protocol No. 2 on Attachment and Forced Sale of Inland Navigation Vessels annexed to the 1965 Convention on the Registration of Inland Navigation Vessels (UN/ECE);

9. 1980 United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (UNCITRAL);
VII. Conclusion Remark

In conclusion, Unidroit is a unique intergovernmental organization that responsible to prepare draft of law or international convention. Therefore it plays very important role in private international law because it studies the needs and methods to modernize and harmonize the international private sectors, especially international trade. The conventions, protocols and guides serve as a crucial instrument in legal practice. More importantly, the achievements of Unidroit are the wonderful contribution that this organization involves in helping private persons, private companies to settle their disputes. Also, it is a mechanism to boost the progress and development of international trade and commerce prosperously and peacefully. However, Unidroit can only prepare the draft of law or convention, but it has no execution power to enact the law on their own.

Finding the Best Lawyers

A lawyer is someone who has a highly detailed knowledge of the law and who has experience and skill in representing client in court and speaking in front of a judge and jury. If you find yourself in court for any reason, or in a position where you intend to take someone to court and to press charges, settle a divorce or get yourself out of a contract, then you will need to make sure that you have the best lawyers on your side.

Without lawyers we are basically ‘sitting ducks’ in a court of law or any legal dispute. Most of us will have very little knowledge of the details of the law, of the ins and outs or of the various loopholes. This means that other can use these against us unless we have lawyers to defend us, and it means that we are unable to use them ourselves even if they might have been able to help us win our case.

So in short using the best lawyers is a huge investment that can help you in many ways – whether it helps you to get out of an uncomfortable contract, whether it helps you to improve your working conditions, whether it helps you to keep your assets in a divorce, or whether it helps you to retain the legal rights pertaining to your work or an intellectual property. In any case you will save yourself a huge amount of money and inconvenience and this means that it is more than worth spending some time and money up front now in hiring a good lawyer.

But with so many lawyers out there, how do you go about finding the best lawyers? How do you recognize them when you find them?

Well thanks to the internet we now have access to a huge range of law firms and lawyers from the comfort of our front rooms. This allows us to browse the sites of many different legal experts and to compare the best lawyer s and law firms directly.

When searching online, you should first and foremost look for lawyers that will deal specifically with your area of the law. If you are in legal disputes with your employers, then you will need to use an employment lawyer for instance, and if you are going through divorce then you will benefit most from divorce lawyers.

The reason for this is that lawyers that specialize will have a lot more intricate knowledge regarding the area you are interested in. They will know more of the loopholes, more of the laws, and more of the case histories that relate to you. If you used a general lawyer then they would have good breadth of knowledge, but they would understand relatively little about each topic compared to specialists.

You should then look around the site of the lawyers to ascertain which are the best lawyers. Look for sites that are well designed and that look professional, and be weary of anything that is poorly designed. Likewise look for good testimonials, and be sure to speak with the lawyers in person on the phone before you decide.

Some Reasons Why You Should Consider Training As A Court Reporter

There are several names by which those in this occupation are sometimes called. They can be known as voice writers, stenotype reporters or transcribers. The court reporter creates an accurate transcription of official proceedings. These transcriptions are used for future reference and for research purposes. This job requires a very high level of accuracy and attention to detail. People in this occupation are often highly intelligent and multilingual.

Stenographic reporting is the most common method. The operator use a stenotype machine and is able to press multiple keys at a time to represent sounds, phrases and words. Modern technology allows for the machine to be linked to a computer system that translates the shorthand from the stenotype machine into text that appears instantly on the computer screen.

Another popular method is electronic reporting. The transcriber uses audio equipment to record the proceedings. Apart from overseeing the proper operation of the equipment, he also takes notes aimed at clarification and identification of the speakers. The recording is then later transcribed. The main disadvantage of this method is that the records of the proceedings are not available immediately.

One of the most technologically advanced methods is voice writing. The reporter speaks into a voice silencer that ensures that the proceedings are not disrupted. All testimony is repeated into a hand held mask that houses a microphone. Gestures and emotional reactions are also recorded, requiring a high degree of skill. Speech recognition systems are sometimes used to provide an instant real time transcript.

This occupation is not limited to courtroom work. While these services are of immense value to the judiciary, transcribers are also in high demand for the recording of depositions, arbitration hearings and many other meetings where an exact record of the proceedings is required. Some earn a extra income from the sale of their transcriptions for study and research purposes. Many also earn an income from recording speeches and lectures.

There is more to this occupation than just he actual recording of proceedings. Voice writers and stenotype reporters have to create and maintain the computer dictionaries that are used to translate the keystrokes or voice into text. It is sometimes even necessary to customize the dictionaries for proceedings where specialized terminology will be used. Other tasks include the editing of transcriptions for grammar and spelling errors.

In order to qualify for this type of work intensive training in English and business law is necessary. There is also a high emphasis on legal and medical language. Training is offered by most business schools, and some colleges and universities. Examinations involve both theoretical tests and practical assessments. Qualified reporters are required to perform transcriptions at approximately two hundred and fifty words per minute.

To become a court reporter it is necessary to be highly organized, precise and disciplined. Most members of this profession earn a good income, they are highly regarded and their services are sought after. Many disputes and potential misunderstandings have been avoided or solved because of the existence of accurate records of proceedings.

How Credit Law Protects Consumers

Consumer credit laws were designed to provide protection in a variety of ways that affect consumers fair access to credit. This can refer to the consumer’s right to understand the credit and loan terms prior to agreeing to them, every consumer’s fair and equal access to credit, limitations on loan and credit interest and terms, and so on. Even a basic understanding of these important laws and Acts can help individuals understand their rights.

Understanding consumer credit rights is the first step to ensuring that you’re being treated fairly by creditors. These credit laws also provide consumers with avenues to have their concerns addressed. The Federal Trade Commission, for example, is charged with overseeing some of these consumer credit laws.

Outlined below are several laws of particular importance for consumers. In today’s economic climate, many consumers are particularly concerned with repairing bad credit reports and scores, and for this reason, the laws of particular importance to those individuals interested in credit repair efforts are placed in their own category.

Consumer Credit Laws

Laws of special importance to credit repair services and a general overview are provided below.

The Credit Repair Organizations Act was designed to ensure that those seeking credit repair services from credit repair organizations are provided with the information necessary to make an informed decision. It aims to ensure that consumers are protected from deceptive or unfair advertising and unscrupulous business practices.

Examples of unscrupulous practices include suggestions that a consumer change their identity or that a consumer lie about their past credit history to potential creditors.

Credit Repair Organizations that violate the law can be sued for damages and attorney’s fees. Violations of the Act can be reported to the Federal Trade Commission and/or your local state attorney general. A consumer has 5 years to take action against an organization once they have learned of a violation to the Act.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act prohibits the denial of credit because of sex, marital status, race, religion, national origin, age or because a person receives public assistance. This law offers protections to consumers when they deal with any people or organizations who participates in the decision to grant credit or in setting the terms of that credit. This includes banks, credit unions, credit card companies, loan and finance companies, retail stores, and real estate brokers.

The law ensures that consumers have the right to know whether their applications for credit were accepted or rejected within 30 days of filing a complete application and to know the reasons why an application was rejected. It also protects the rights of consumers to know the reason(s) why they have been offered less favorable terms than requested, but only if that consumer rejects the less favorable terms being offered.

A number of federal agencies are charged with the enforcement of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, including Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Credit Union Administration, to name a few. Where a consumer directs complaints depends on the complaint itself. A starting point for consumers is to visit the Federal Reserve website or call 1-888-851-1920.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) gives any individual the right to know what information is being distributed about them by any credit reporting agency. It regulates the collection, dissemination, and use of consumer credit information. The FCRA was passed in 1970, and along with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), it constitutes the core of credit law in the US.

Critical to the Fair Credit Reporting Act are the rules and responsibilities outlined that Credit Reporting Agencies must follow. Credit Reporting Agencies (CRAs) are the entities that collect and store credit information on every US consumer. The FCRA also provides regulations that those who provide the CRAs with information must follow. Examples of these information furnishers are creditors such as credit card companies, mortgage companies, and automobile financing companies. Other information furnishers include employers, bonders, and courts that enact judgments against individuals, such as bankruptcies.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission. The FCRA is arguably the most powerful piece of legislation used by credit repair companies who seek to have out of date and/or incorrect information removed from a consumer’s credit report.

Notices of Rights and Duties under the FCRA (July 1, 1997) were published by the Federal Trade Commission as amendments for the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The Notices must be distributed by Credit Reporting Agencies and include a summary of consumer rights under the FCRA; a notice that sets forth the responsibilities under the FCRA of those who furnish consumer information to consumer reporting agencies; and a notice that outlines the obligations for any person who uses information covered by the FCRA.

These Notices were designed to enhance the Fair Credit Reporting Act in an effort to promote accuracy, fairness, and the privacy of information in the credit files created by all credit reporting agencies.

The Federal Trade Commission oversees the proper implementation of the FCRA and the Notices of Rights and Duties.

The Truth in Lending Act (TILA) is a US federal law that was enacted in 1968 and is contained in Title I of the Consumer Credit Protection Act. It’s intent is to protect consumers by requiring that any lender, prior to entering into a credit transaction, provide written disclosures of the costs of credit and the terms of repayment.

Excluding some high-cost mortgage loans, the TILA doesn’t regulate the charges that may be established for consumer credit. What the Act requires is standardized disclosure of costs and charges for credit. This protects consumers by helping them shop and compare the costs and terms of credit and make informed decisions about where and from whom they access credit.

Other benefits to consumers include the right to cancel particular credit transactions that involve a lien on a person’s primary dwelling and the regulation of credit card practices. It also includes mechanisms to protect a consumer’s timely resolution of credit billing disputes.

The Truth in Lending Act is enforced by the Federal Reserve System, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and several other agencies. Those creditors that are not under the jurisdiction of any specific enforcement agency answer to the Federal Trade Commission.

Other Consumer Credit Rules and Acts

The Consumer Leasing Act is a federal law that requires leasing companies to inform a consumer in writing about the details involved in a contract. It outlines requirements regarding the cost and terms of any leasing agreement, including a statement of the number of lease payments and their dollar value, penalties for reneging on timely lease repayment, and whether a lump sum payment is due at the end of the lease agreement.

This Act helps consumers understand the important details of any lease agreement so that they can shop for the best leasing terms. It also helps a consumer compare the cost of leasing with actual purchase costs. In addition, it regulates lease advertising by penalizing unscrupulous or unfair advertising practices.

The Act applies to leases including personal property leased by an individual for the period of more than four months for personal or household use, long term rentals of items such as cars and appliances, and other personal property.

The Consumer Leasing Act is enforced by the Federal Trade Commission.

The Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA) is a US federal law that was set forth as an amendment to the Truth in Lending Act. The Act outlines guidelines and procedures for resolving billing errors that may appear on credit card and charge card accounts, and protects consumers from unfair billing practices.

The procedures outlined in the FCBA include the proper dispute process for consumers. Consumers may send via mail a written dispute of perceived billing errors to their creditor within sixty days of the statement date on the account statement. The creditor is obliged to acknowledge and investigate the dispute, and within 90 days, make the requested correction or inform the consumer in writing that no correction with be made the reasons why.

Examples of billing errors covered by the Act include: charges not made by the consumer; incorrect charge amounts; charges for goods not received by the consumer; charges for goods not delivered under specified terms; charges for damaged goods; failure to update account payments made; calculation errors; charges a consumer either requests proof of or wants clarified; and payments mailed to the wrong address.

Overall enforcement of the Fair Credit Billing Act is the responsibility of the Federal Trade Commission; however, enforcement for banks falls under the domain of the Federal Deposit Insurance Act.

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) sets out guidelines and procedures for collections companies that prevents debt collectors from using unfair or deceptive practices to collect overdue bills. Debt collectors regulated under this Act include collection agencies, lawyers who regularly collect debts, and companies that buy delinquent debts from others and endeavor to collect them.

The debts covered under the Act do not include debts incurred by businesses. They do include family, and household debts, such as money owed on credit card accounts, medical bills, auto loans, and mortgages.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is charged with the enforcement of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act (HOEPA) is an amendement to the Truth in Lending Act and was implemented by the Federal Reserve System in 1994. It was designed to protect consumers by restricting certain terms of high cost home loans in situations where the interest rate or fees are above specified levels.

This Act applies to the sub-prime mortgage market and home equity lending, and it has therefore been discussed at great length in recent times.

The Home Ownership and Equity Protection Act applies primarily to refinancing and home equity installment loans, provided that these loans meet certain criteria and fall under the definition of a high fee or high rate loan. The Act does not apply to reverse mortgages, loans to build or buy a home, or home equity lines of credit.

As with the Truth in Lending Act, enforcement of HOEPA falls under the jurisdiction of the Federal Trade Commission.

Credit law exists to protect consumers. The Fair Credit Reporting Act and the Credit Repair Organizations Act are of particular importance to those who provide credit repair services and those seeking to repair bad credit reports on their own. Understanding these laws and where and how they are applied and enforced is critical for any consumer interested in protecting their rights in any credit or leasing arrangement.