Retailers’ Relief At Consumer Protection Delay

Retailers given more time to comply with Consumer Protection and Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.

By News Desk
3rd March 2008 at 21:26

New consumer protection law has been delayed following pressure from business groups including the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the British Shops & Stores Association (bssa).

Consumer Affairs Minister, Gareth Thomas confirmed today that the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations (CPR) will now come into force on 26 May 2008, rather than 6 April as previously planned.

The CPR is generally seen as positive for both business and consumers and is considered the biggest change to consumer legislation in 40 years. 

It bans 31 types of unfair sales practices outright including, bogus closing down sales, prize draw scams, and aggressive doorstep selling. It will also establish a catch-all duty not to trade unfairly which should make it tougher for rogue traders to exploit previous loopholes.

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  1. The delay is a relief to many small businesses. This also gives a bit of time to consider the new regulations and whether any existing practices breach the rules. Even healers and psychics are worried – if you claim to contact the dead local trading standards might be knocking on the door to try to prove that!

    Peter Deft of BERR is one of the speakers on the regulations at a half day course in London on 30th April (Singlelaw, Conferences) which hopefully will give people a chance to look at the regulations in detail a month before they come into effect.

  2. SmallBizPod says:

    Thanks for that Susan. As this is the implementation of an EU regulation, does it have an implications for intra-EU trading online?

  3. MartinF says:

    SmallBizPod – yes, the new CPRs do have a big EU effect. They are the UK’s method of enacting the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) which is designed to create a new trans-European level playing field to facilitate cross-border trade.

    An unusual feature of the Directive is that it is ‘maximum harminisation’, which prevents member states tweaking it to give any extra protection to consumers (the process often called ‘gold-plating’). This also means that a big slice of UK consumer protection legislation will be repealed as the CPRs come into effect, e.g. Trade Descriptions Act 1968, Consumer Protection Act 1987 Part III (misleading prices), and a whole host of other stuff (say goodbye to the Fraudulent Mediums Act!!).

    Other EU Directives continue to apply, including distance and doorstep selling.

    UCPD is a ‘Thou shalt not’ provision (don’t mislead or bully consumers, basically), not a ‘Thou shalt’ (provide cancellation rights etc etc) like the Distance Selling Directive/ Regs. It is therefore very general in its wording. ‘Principles-based’ is the official description; the cynic might say ‘vague and woolly’!

    As previous UK legislation like the Trade Descriptions Act was a considerable influence in its drafting, UK businesses that fully complied with UK consumer protectionlaw should have little to fear. Watch out for further guidance from BERR and OFT, including more detailed advice on price indications including ‘Sales’.

  4. SmallBizPod says:

    Martin, thanks ever so much for that. Very informative and useful.

  5. Yes, Martin is right.
    Intra-EU trading on line – well it means all 27 EU states will have similar laws in this area as the new regulations implement an EU directive.
    I have been looking at the implications for things like viral marketing. Advertorials have to be clearly marked as such. If I sneak in a reference to the conference I am running on th regulations on 30th April for example is that a breach of the regulations and when is something an advert and when is it not – that issue has interesting implications for the way some marketing is now done in fairly subtle ways on line.

  6. SmallBizPod says:

    Marketing is now done in fairly subtle ways … these comments, I guess, could be perceived as such.

    Not that I’m complaining, you’ve both added to the original post with useful and interesting points, which is what it’s all about.

    Thank you Susan and Martin.

  7. SmallBizPod says:

    Good question. Part of your answer is in the posts above.

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