Sunday, 3 November 2013

UK Consumer law is not "fit for purpose" as new Consumer Rights Bill is proposed


Since the Sale of Goods Act came into force in 1979 consumer law has developed as part of a reactive rather than proactive approach to protecting consumer rights and businesses. It also has not managed to keep up with some of the technological developments which now influence the way we buy and sell in this digital age. 

Consumer legislation has become unwieldy, ambiguous in some areas and quite complex in others. 

There are also inconsistencies between EU laws and pre-existing UK legislation's and many consumers and business do find it difficult to navigate their way around their legal rights and their obligations.

Consumer law to incorporate technological developments

All this is set to change if the draft Consumer Rights Bill (CRB), which was published back in June this year, is implemented and on 14 October 2013 MP’s received a briefing note and copies of the draft CRB for them to start looking in detail at the proposed new framework. If it is implemented then it will be the biggest overhaul of consumer law for decades. 
In essence it sets out a framework that combines key consumer rights covering contracts for goods, services, digital content and the law relating to unfair terms in consumer contracts. Under digital content this will cover your rights if for example you have bought an e-book that doesn't work as you were told it should, your MP3 or Cloud based software doesn't work properly or your avatar is not responding and so on.

Trading Standard Officers enforcement powers become more flexible

It will also give enforcers of consumer law (such as Trading Standard Officers) greater flexibility in the action they can take when dealing with breaches of consumer law. There are also going to be easier routes for consumers and small to medium sized businesses to challenge anti-competitive behaviour.
Draft regulations to reform the law on misleading and aggressive practices by traders have also been published and there is a new EU consumer directive that has to be implemented by December 2013. So quite a lot of changes hopefully for the better with less confusion and iRateiSlate will keep you up to speed as and when these things happen, so keep in contact!

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