In January we reported on the introduction of the Consumer Rights Bill to Parliament. The Bill consolidates the majority of UK consumer law relating to the sale of goods, supply of services and unfair contract terms and includes new provisions relating to the supply of digital content.
Over the course of 2014 the Bill has made its way through the Commons and it had its third reading in the House of Lords on 8 December 2014. The Lords used the Third Reading to consider some of the substantive amendments they had made. These include how appointments are to be made to the Competition Appeal Tribunal and new disclosure rules for ticket resale websites designed to give consumers more protection from ticket touts.
The House of Lords has now returned the Bill to the House of Commons and, because they have made amendments, it now enters Parliamentary ping pong. As yet there is no date announced for the Commons to consider the Lords’ amendments but the expectation is that it will be scheduled early in the New Year so as to meet the planned date for implementation of October 2015.
The Government’s aim is for guidance for businesses to be produced by the beginning of April to give them six months to prepare. The primary source of business guidance will be the Trading Standards Institute Business Companion website. This will present high level advice and short guides focusing on the key changes. Guidance on the unfair terms and private actions elements of the Bill will be produced and hosted by the Competition and Markets Authority. Obviously, consumers will need a basic awareness of their updated rights, and should also know where to get advice on a specific problem with faulty goods, services or digital content but the Government view is that they will not need to know until implementation. So, the Citizens Advice website will be updated for the planned date of 1 October and preceded by effective publicity campaigns, including via social media, which will be developed in conjunction with consumer groups. Consumer advisers for the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline will be trained between April and October 2015.