Older Persons and the Law
Age and physical condition are at best imperfect indicators of a person’s ability to participate in social and commercial life. A person whose physical or mental condition has been weakened by “advanced” age may nevertheless be vulnerable to high pressure or other improper forms of selling: it would at least be questionable for a salesperson to approach in his or her home and to attempt to sign up for some or other subscription a consumer who is 93 years old. In terms of section 40 of the Consumer Protection Act a supplier or its agent may not use, and it is regarded as unconscionable conduct for a supplier or its agent to use, physical force, coercion, undue influence , pressure, duress or harassment, unfair tactics or any other similar conduct in connection with any marketing of goods or services, the supply of goods or services to a consumer, or the negotiation or conclusion of an agreement to supply goods or services to a consumer. It is unconscionable for a supplier knowingly to take advantage of the fact that the consumer was substantially unable to protect the consumer’s own interests because of physical or mental disability, illiteracy, ignorance, or inability to understand the language of an agreement. A person who is of advanced age (or even a younger person who for example suffers from a degree of dementia), may not necessarily fall into any of these categories or have been declared mentally unfit by a court, but may nevertheless be subject to manipulation and exploitation and sales duress. The rights of older persons in residential facilities are protected to some extent by the Older Persons Act, but instances of abuse by caregivers have been reported. Older persons may also enjoy some legal protection when they live in circumstances where they are subject to various forms of abuse.