The government has introduced two Supplementary Order Papers (SOP 207 and SOP 218) to the Consumer Law Reform Bill at the committee of the whole House stage of the Bill.

SOP 207 makes a number of minor and technical amendments affecting the Fair Trading Act 1986 (FTA), the Consumer Guarantees Act 1993, and the Weights and Measures Act 1987. It also makes the following substantive amendments to the FTA provisions:

  • Contracting out between businesses: The commencement of the new contracting out provision for businesses in relation to sections 9 (misleading and deceptive conduct generally), 13 (false or misleading representations), and 14(1) (false representations in relation to land) of the FTA has been delayed until six months after the Bill receives Royal assent;

  • Unfair contract terms: The new prohibition on including or enforcing "unfair contract terms" in standard form consumer contracts has been amended by:

    • delaying its commencement from six months to 15 months after the Bill receives Royal assent;

    • clarifying that the prohibition applies only after a court has declared the term to be an unfair contract term;

    • clarifying that if a term has been declared to be an unfair contract term in a standard form contract, it can nonetheless be included in the standard form contract if it is included in a way that complies with any terms set out in the decision of the court that made the declaration; and

    • providing that, in insurance contracts, a term may be treated by a court as being reasonably necessary in order to protect the legitimate interests of the insurer (and therefore not be an unfair contract term) if the term reflects the underwriting risk accepted by the insurer;

  • False representations in relation to land: A new section 14A of the FTA sets out that, in certain circumstances, a vendor bid, or quoting a vendor bid, will be a false or misleading representation as to price;

  • Voluntary product recall: The new section 31A has been amended to make clear that, in relation to voluntary recalls of goods, section 31A applies only if there is no other requirement to report to a government agency or if there is no other requirement to take any action in relation to those goods;

  • Uninvited direct sales: The price disclosure rules for uninvited direct sales have been clarified, particularly where the cost cannot be calculated at the time, such as for mobile phone or electricity services.

SOP 218 divides the Consumer Law Reform Bill into six separate bills, the Fair Trading Amendment Bill, the Consumer Guarantees Amendment Bill, the Weights and Measures Amendment Bill, the Secondhand Dealers and Pawnbrokers Amendment Bill, the Carriage of Goods Amendment Bill and the Auctioneers Bill.

For further information on the Consumer Law Reform Bill see our earlier client update here.