Draft Consumer Rights Bill - Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. At present, 12 separate pieces of legislation cover key consumer rights in the UK[1], while around 60 pieces of legislation cover the investigatory powers of consumer law enforcers.[2]

2. The draft Consumer Rights Bill is intended to consolidate, rationalise and modernise consumer law. The draft Bill would apply to contracts between a trader and a consumer, and not to 'business to business' or 'consumer to consumer' contracts.[3]

3. The draft Bill is part of a wider landscape of reform in consumer law, which includes the Consumer Rights Directive which must implemented in the UK by June 2014, the Misleading Practices Directive and the Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive.[4]

4. We support the Government's initiative of seeking to rationalise and modernise the complex statutory framework of consumer law. However, we consider that the draft Bill raises many important and complex issues which must be resolved before a final Bill is introduced to Parliament. The proposals in the draft Bill represent the largest and most radical overhaul of consumer law in decades and therefore it was not possible to consider every issue. We have focussed on those areas which attracted the greatest concern and uncertainty from stakeholders, and those areas which if implemented would represent the most significant departures from the current legal position.

5. The Government published its draft Consumer Rights Bill on 12 June 2013.[5] We decided to examine the draft Bill and on 2 July 2013 we issued a call for evidence which closed on 19 August 2013, although we accepted evidence sent to us throughout the duration of the inquiry. The Government submitted several items of supplementary evidence during this time.

  1. We took oral evidence from consumer and business representatives, enforcers, the Law Commissions and the Government. The Government had expressed its hope that we would report to the House as soon as possible, and the constraints on our timetable limited the amount of oral evidence we were able to hear. We are grateful to all those who submitted written evidence, gave oral evidence or otherwise assisted with our inquiry.

1   Draft Consumer Rights Bill, Explanatory Notes, June 2013, paragraph 8 (hereafter, 'Explanatory Notes'Back

2   Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Enhancing consumer confidence through effective enforcement: Supplementary Legislative Document for the consultation on consolidating and modernising consumer law enforcement powers, March 2012, pages 5-12 Back

3   Clause 2(2) and clause 2(3) Back

4   See Chapter 2 of this Report Back

5   Draft Consumer Rights Bill, Cm 8657(www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-consumer-rights-bill) Back

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Prepared 23 December 2013