Consumer enforcement – TSI welcomes new remedies to help consumers
The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) has welcomed Government proposals to give courts new powers to provide redress for consumers.
Earlier this month, the Government issued the ‘Civil Enforcement Remedies’ consultation proposing further radical changes to the consumer enforcement process. The proposals will change the way authorities, such as trading standards departments, pursue enforcement.
TSI chief executive Ron Gainsford said the Government proposals would not only help consumers but boost the economy.
He said: "At present, non compliance maybe investigated by trading standards and the Office of Fair Trading but the consumer will not necessarily see any compensation as a result of its complaint.
"These proposals are good news for consumers as their rights will be increased and there is greater transparency and visibility. The big change is that consumers who have lost money in a transaction would have a means to get their money back, and there will be direct remedies available to consumers.
"Orders or Undertakings could contain provision for contacting past customers and reimbursing them for an overcharge. This would not automatically replace consumers’ individual rights, but could provide a practical alternative for consumers and give trading standards a strong role in ensuring traders respond to those rights.
"These new powers will not only increase consumer confidence when shopping in the UK, helping to give a much needed boost to the economy, but also within Europe, particularly in relation to online shopping. The right measures will make it easier for UK companies and investors to operate across national boundaries and will help to improve the ability of European Union capital markets to service corporate requirements."
The consultation sets out options to amend Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 to enable Trading Standards and other enforcers or the courts to implement a range of measures rather than just stopping the breach of the law.
Possible measures could include making a business sign up to a Primary Authority scheme or designating a contact point person who will look at how well a business complies with consumer law. Another option could include introducing a clear complaints-handling scheme, in order that consumers know exactly who to contact for help when they have a problem.
The consultation proposes three outcomes for the civil enforcement process:
* make sure businesses increase good practice to abide by consumer law;
* reimburse consumers for money lost; and
* boost consumer confidence and empower them to exercise greater choice.
The consultation closes on 31 December 2012, and the proposals are likely to be taken forward in a forthcoming Consumer Bill in 2013. The consultation is available to view online at http://www.bis.gov.uk/Consultations/civil-enforcement-remedies-consumer-law?cat=open
Notes for Editors:
For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Irja Howie at TSI press office on 08456089430 / 07780675815 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Trading Standards Institute (TSI)
TSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities.
TSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses.
The Trading Standards Institute also hosts the UK European Consumer Centre (ECC) which provides consumer advice with regards to cross border disputes within the EU and also the European Consumer Centre Service (ECCS). The ECCS provide consumers with a wide range of services, from providing information about their rights to giving advice and assistance to their cross-border complaints and informing about the available resolution of disputes. This is to enable consumers to take full advantage of cross border shopping within the EU, without risk to their health, safety or economic interests.