Enforcement of consumer law is being strengthened under new government plans announced today.
A statement from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy issued today outlines new enhanced powers for the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to be able to directly enforce consumer law, including the ability to fine firms up to 10% of their global turnover for mistreating customers.
The new powers are intended to help tackle rogue business practices, such as companies colluding to bump-up prices and acquisitions where large businesses buy up rivals before they can launch new products or services.
The CMA has also been given the authority to award compensation to consumers, replacing the current system which requires consumers to follow a court process, which can take years.
In addition, new rules are to be put in place aimed at providing consumers with enhanced protections from fake reviews and unwanted subscriptions.
Plans include consulting on a new law against bogus ratings by making it illegal to pay someone to write or host a fake review. There will also be clearer rules for businesses to make it easier for consumers to opt out of subscriptions for items they no longer want.
In addition, prepayment schemes such as Christmas savings clubs will be required to fully safeguard customers’ money through insurance or trust accounts, to prevent consumers losing their money in the event the business goes bust.
The government is also pursuing plans to encourage consumers and traders to use make use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services instead of taking court action by amending the ADR Regulations 2015 to improve the quality and oversight of ADR services, and requiring businesses offering consumers dispute resolution services to be accredited against these regulations.