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Thematic Issue: Vulnerability and the Law

From Safety Nets to Support Networks: Beyond ‘Vulnerability’ in Protection for Consumers with Cognitive Disabilities


Yvette Maker, Jeannie Marie Paterson, Anna Arstein-Kerslake, Bernadette McSherry and Lisa Brophy

This article considers the significance of the obligations in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (‘CRPD’) for consumer protection law and policy. The current legal response to consumers who require additional decision-making support is primarily focused on mechanisms to release consumers classified as ‘vulnerable’ from transactions tainted by concerns about a lack of genuine consent. While these legal responses provide an important safety net of protection against predatory and exploitative behaviour, they are limited in their ability to encourage social participation and equal access to goods and services for consumers with cognitive disabilities. We argue that the CRPD requires an approach to consumer protection that provides more meaningful support for consumers with cognitive disabilities and make suggestions about what this support might entail in terms of changes to both the legislative regime and contracting practices.

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(2018) 41(3) UNSWLJ 818: