Consumer rights reforms could come into force by June | DMA

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Consumer rights reforms could come into force by June

The Consumer Rights Bill has entered its final stages and the Government aims to implement the changes into law by June 2014. It is the end of a lengthy process which will reform and consolidate consumer law in the UK which has been built over over the last 40 years.

Progress in the last three months

January: The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) issued the final draft Consumer Rights Bill on 23 January 2014. The House of Commons debated the main principles on 28 January and it was then sent to the House of Commons Public Bill Committee for scrutiny.

February: The Committee members heard oral evidence on 11 February from a number of organisations including Which?, Citizens Advice, and Martin Lewis from MoneySavingExpert.com. They also heard from the CBI, the BRC, Trading Standards Institute and the OFT, together with the Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission, who contributed to the Bill with their proposals for an overhaul of unfair terms.

March: The Committee has since discussed the draft Bill line by line, suggesting amendments to the text. The one important suggested amendment from an advertising and marketing viewpoint was discussed in the House of Commons on 4 March when Labour MP Stella Creasey introduced an amendment which would have required traders to have the direct consent of their customers to pass their data to third parties for any purposes, specifically for marketing and communication purposes, and the trader would be liable to compensate their customer for any distress caused by communications received without consent.

As many of you are aware, both the ICO and Ofcom are due to issue a joint Action Plan on the issue of unsolicited calls and text messages, as there has been a great deal of work in this area, to which the DMA has contributed.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for BIS, Jenny Willott, advised the Committee about the work already in hand to combat unsolicited calls and texts. After some debate, the amendment was withdrawn. We will of course advise members when the joint Action Plan is issued.

The Committee finished its scrutiny on 13 March. There were some amendments so the Bill will be reprinted and will return to the House of Commons for its report stage, where the amendments will be debated.

Janine Paterson, Solicitor, DMA

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