Consumer protection in the United Kingdom

Consumer protection in the United Kingdom is effected through a multiplicity of Acts of Parliament, statutory instruments, government agencies and departments and citizens' lobby groups and aims to ensure the market economy produces fairness and quality in goods and services people buy. The main areas of regulating consumer affairs include,

  • fairer terms in contracts for goods and services, by declaring surprising and onerous terms as unfair
  • product safety regulation, to ensure people cannot purchase goods that are potentially harmful
  • financial regulation, to ensure access to credit is cheaper and people fully understand the obligations they have when taking loans
  • stronger competition in the private sector, through breaking up cartels, dismantling monopolies and unwinding some mergers

Because the United Kingdom, through its membership of the European Union is part of the internal market, it works with other European countries and EU institutions to produce and enforce consumer protection laws transnationally.

Contents

History

Regulatory enforcement

Consumer Protection issues are dealt with when complaints are made to the Director-General of Fair Trade. The Office of Fair Trading[3] will then investigate, impose an injunction or take the matter to litigation. However, consumers cannot directly complain to the OFT. Complaints need to be made to Consumer Direct who will provide legal advice to complainants, or re-direct the individual complaint to Trading Standards for investigation. Due to restrictions within the Enterprise Act 2002, individual complainants are unable to be told whether their case is being investigated or not. In very rare cases, Consumer Direct may direct a very large number of complaints to the OFT to be considered as a systemic complaint. The OFT can also be engaged by consumer groups e.g. The Consumers Association or the statutory consumer protection body - Consumer Focus - via a super complaint. The OFT rarely prosecute companies, however, preferring a light touch regulation approach. Consumer complaints against companies are not published, but investigation work, undertakings and enforcements are located at.[1] Many of the consumer protection laws e.g. Distance Selling Regulations 2000 or Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Act 1997 are actually UK implementations of EU directives. The OFT is one of the bodies responsible for enforcing these rules. This leads to a problem in that these examples of legislation are clearly designed to deal with individual complaints but the OFT will only deal with systemic complaints and will ignore individual complainants redirecting them back to Consumer Direct. The Office of Fair Trading[2] also acts as the UK's official consumer and competition watchdog, with a remit to make markets work well for consumers, and at a local, municipal level by Trading Standards departments. General consumer advice can be obtained from Consumer Direct or via a local branch of the Citizen's Advice Bureau.

Consumer advocacy groups

The Enterprise Act 2002 allows consumer bodies that have been approved by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to be designated as "super-complainants" to the Office of Fair Trading. These super-complainants are intended to, "strengthen the voice of consumers," who are "unlikely to have access individually to the kind of information necessary to judge whether markets are failing for them." Eight have been designated as of 2007:[3]

  • CAMRA - a lobbying group concerned with the tradition and quality of beer.
  • The Citizen's Advice Bureau, a free service that provides legal advice, practical help and information on consumer rights across the country.
  • Consumer Council for Water (formerly known as Watervoice)
  • Consumer Direct
  • General Consumer Council of Northern Ireland
  • Good Garage Scheme, an automobile repair shop motoring scheme
  • National Consumer Council
  • Postwatch
  • Which? - formerly the Consumers Association - a consumer advocacy organisation which has substantial powers (for example to take representative actions under the Competition Act 1998) but which is primarily a lobbying organisation funded entirely by subscriptions to its regular consumer information magazine.

Fair contract terms

  • Unfair Contract Terms Bill

Product safety

Finance and credit

Competition law

See also

Notes

References

External links


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Copyright law of the United Kingdom — The modern concept of copyright originated in the United Kingdom, in the year 1710, with the Statute of Anne. The current copyright law of the United Kingdom is to be found in the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (the 1988 Act), as amended …   Wikipedia

  • Competition law in the United Kingdom — United Kingdom competition law is affected by both British and European elements. The Competition Act 1998 and the Enterprise Act 2002 are the most important statutes for cases with a purely national dimension. However if the effect of a business …   Wikipedia

  • Nuclear power in the United Kingdom — United Kingdom energy related articles Government energy policy Energy use and conservation Nuclear power Solar power Wind power Energy efficiency in …   Wikipedia

  • Architects Registration in the United Kingdom — It applies to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.Section 2 of the Act prescribes that the Board shall appoint and regulate the functions ascribed to the Registrar. The Act refers to the Registrar by the masculine pronoun in the… …   Wikipedia

  • Telephone numbers in the United Kingdom — +44 redirects here. For the band, see +44 (band). United Kingdom telephone numbers Location of United Kingdom (dark green) Location Country United Kingdom Continent …   Wikipedia

  • Civil liberties in the United Kingdom — have a long and formative history. This is usually considered to have begun with the English legal charter the Magna Carta of 1215, following its predecessor the English Charter of Liberties, a landmark document in English legal history. Judicial …   Wikipedia

  • Digital radio in the United Kingdom — A typical DAB digital radio receiver with the Digital Radio Development Bureau DAB digital radio marketing logo In the United Kingdom, the roll out of digital radio is proceeding since test transmissions were started by the BBC in 1990. The UK… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Statutory Instruments of the United Kingdom, 1988 — NOTOC This is a complete list of all 1558 Statutory Instruments published in the United Kingdom in the year 1988.1 100* Origin of Goods (Petroleum Products) Regulations 1988 S.I. 1988/1 * Export of Sheep (Prohibition) (No.2) Amendment Order 1988… …   Wikipedia

  • List of Acts of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, 1980–1999 — UK Legislation Acts of Parliament by states preceding the United Kingdom Of the Kingdom of England Before 1485 1485–1601 · 1603–1641 Interregnum (1642–1660) 1660–1699 · 1700–1706 …   Wikipedia

  • List of Statutory Instruments of the United Kingdom, 1989 — NOTOC This is a complete list of all 1534 Statutory Instruments published in the United Kingdom in the year 1989.1 100* Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Commencement No. 5) Order 1989 S.I. 1989/1 * Food Protection (Emergency Prohibitions) (Wales)… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.