New bill will strengthen consumer rights

The Bill will update the law for goods and services and for digital content, clarify the law on unfair contract terms, consolidate consumer powers for Trading Standards, and provide much stronger protection for vulnerable customers targeted by misleading aggressive sales practices.

Consumer Minister Edward Davey said:

“Consumer law in the UK comes from a variety of Acts and regulation, making it complex and confusing. This is bad for consumers and bad for business as people don’t know their rights and the cost of compliance for business is higher than necessary.

“The Consumer Bill of Rights will consolidate, clarify and strengthen the consumer laws already in place, which will make it easier for everyone to understand and consumer rights in the UK will be stronger than ever. This Bill will give everyone a single place to find all their consumer rights.”

Current aggressive practices include:

• implying a connection with social services or an old age charity;
• preying on the elderly person’s fear of losing their independence;
• writing out cheques or an order form for the victim; and
• salespersons refusing to leave the premises until they have secured a sale.

We will be proposing that victims should have a clear time, extending beyond the default cancellation period currently in place, in which to unwind the contract.

The Bill will bring together consumer rights currently found in 12 Acts or Regulations and the incoming European Consumer Rights Directive. It will be in simple English, making it easier for consumers and businesses to understand what is a complex and inconsistent area of law.

By consolidating consumer rights we will substantially reduce red tape for businesses, which will in turn help us to create the right conditions for sustainable economic growth.

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