Consumer Bill Of Rights Introduced To Parliament

Consumer Bill of Rights introduced to ParliamentA new bill of rights for consumers has been introduced to Parliament.

The Consumer Rights Bill was introduced to Westminster on January 23rd and will undergo UK law reviews and close examination before it becomes law. It will enshrine in law the following consumer rights:

–          After one failed repair of faulty items or one faulty replacement, consumers will have the right to claim some of their money back

–          They will be able to demand that substandard services are re-performed, or if this does not occur, a reduction in price

–          A 30-day time period in which people can return faulty items or receive a price reduction

–          Challenge unfair terms and conditions or those that are hidden within the small-print, which will see airlines making additional fees very clear during the booking process if they are to adhere to UK consumer law

It will also make the following changes to UK business law, if it does not change through UK law reviews:

–          Trading Standards Officers and other enforcement personnel will be required to give businesses 48 hours’ notice before they carry out routine inspections, which should save businesses approximately £4.1 million every year

–          Trading Standards Officers may still carry out unannounced inspections in cases of suspected law breaking

–          Businesses that have gone through problems after breaching competition law will have cheaper and more efficient remedies available

–          UK employment law will be changed by reducing on-going training costs, with firms spending less time understanding the requirements for businesses to consider different scenarios or understand their obligations when training their workforce

Consumer Minister Jenny Williot, who is introducing the bill, said consumers have found it difficult to understand legislation relating to the purchase of services and goods for many years.

As a result, if the consumer bill passes its UK law reviews and gets through parliament, it will put key consumer rights in place for services and goods, while being the first piece of legislation to do so for digital content. It will see consumers receive the right to replacements and repairs when they receive faulty digital content, including film, music, e-books and online games. Millions of people experience problems with these downloads every year and may be unable to receive recourse.

Ms Williot said that confident and well-informed consumers are essential if the UK is to build a stronger economy, arguing the government’s plans will mean people can feel confident about their rights about consumers, while allowing businesses to understand their legal obligations easily.

Consumer advocacy group Which? has welcomed the bill, saying it brings UK consumer law up-to-date.

It noted that every year, consumers in the UK spend a total of over 59 million hours dealing with problems with services and goods, costing approximately £3 billion very year.

The government’s proposed bill will significantly improve consumer protection, providing Brits with clear consumer rights, it added.

Until the bill passes UK law reviews, which is forecast to occur in 2014, consumers will still be protected by existing consumer law.