A New Consumer Bill of Rights

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Posted in:Corporate and Commercial|May 28, 2013 | Join the mailing list

Following the Queen’s Speech much of the media focus has been directed towards immigration and the lack of comment on membership to the EU.  However, one of the important things to come from the speech was the announcement that this summer
will see the publication of the draft Consumer Bill of Rights.

The draft Consumer Bill of Rights comes following last year’s consultation by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills on the topic.  In large one of the key aims of the draft bill is to consolidate existing legislation.  Until now
if parties are dealing with consumer law they would potentially have to navigate numerous pieces of legislation to deal with a single transaction.  The new draft bill aims to be a single source of legislation to cover the provision of goods and/or services
as well as dealing with issues such as unfair contract terms.

Another form of simplification and consolidation will come in the bill’s potential to expressly set out timings in relation to a consumer’s rights to reject faulty goods as well as the process and timing for pursuing repair, replacement or
refund in relation to any faulty goods.

Further to this the bill has promised to represent a modernisation of the law acknowledging the internet and digital era.  For the first time consumer legislation will deal with content such as digital purchases.  The new legislation is anticipated
to directly deal with the purchase of downloaded music, games, books and films as well as other forms of relevant software.

One final addition expected from the new legislation is to give Trading Standards new powers meaning that they could go to court.  This would lead to Trading Standards having the power to obtain an order against a trader forcing them to pay
compensation for breach of the new consumer law.

Although the bill is still in draft form it will be important to follow these changes as the new consumer law will affect all UK businesses who deal with consumers.  However, these changes should be embraced as it seeks to consolidate, modernise
and simplify what until now has remained a mind field for lawyers and businesses alike.  Once the changes are published and introduced, provided businesses adjust their contracts and terms accordingly, there does not seem to be any additional onerous obligations
placed onto existing trading businesses.  However, until the actual bill is published we can only rely on the consultation paper as guidance for its contents and full clarification will only come with time.

Should you have any concerns regarding your dealings with consumers, or seek guidance and advice in relation to amending part or all of your company contracts please contact Stephen Foster, Head of Corporate at
stephenf@berg.co.uk or by telephoning 0161 833 9211.

The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice.  No responsibility for article’s accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees. 
Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of the contents of this article.

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