Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014
Following the implementation of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (the CPRs), the 2014 Regulations will now give consumers the ability to take direct action (standard remedies and an entitlement to seek damages) through the civil courts if they have been victims of misleading or aggressive practices (but not misleading omissions).
An action by a trader is considered to be misleading if it is likely to mislead the average consumer in its overall presentation or if it contains false information. Whether a trader has behaved aggressively depends on whether the practice in question significantly impairs or is likely to significantly impair the average consumer’s freedom of choice. Pressure selling is one example of an aggressive practice.
In order to take advantage of the available remedies, a consumer must show that he or she made the decision to enter the contract, or make the payment to the trader because of the misleading or aggressive practice. The prohibited behaviour needn’t be the only, or even the main reason for entering into the contract. But it must at least be a “significant factor” in the consumer’s decision. This is a question of fact.
Whilst the 2014 Regulations do not generally cover contracts for the sale of land or houses (including social housing provided by housing associations, local authorities and private landlords), there are two types of tenancy which are covered and for which consumers are protected against misleading or aggressive practices in respect of. These are:
- assured tenancies within the meaning of Part 1 of the Housing Act 1988; and
- leases under which accommodation is let as holiday accommodation
This development tightens the original regulations where the consumer had no way of seeking redress directly and does not require action to be instigated by the Competition Markets Authority or Trading Standards. The regulations came into force on 1 October 2014 and will apply to contracts entered into or payments made on or after that date.
If they have not already done so, we recommend that Registered Providers review their procedures and processes to ensure compliance with the CPRs following the 1 October implementation date.