Consultations

Ofcom: Ofcom has announced its intention to implement major changes to how telephone numbers are charged, which will make the cost of calling businesses & services clearer for consumers. 

The central measure is designed to tackle consumer confusion about how much it costs to call companies, public bodies and other organisations on numbers starting 08, 09 & 118.
 
Services provided on these ‘non-geographic’ numbers include information, banking, directory enquiry & entertainment services. Currently, unless using a BT landline, callers to these numbers cannot easily tell how much they will be charged.
 
In order to implement the changes, certain ‘legal instruments’ are required; these have published in draft form for consultation.  In addition, there are some aspects of Ofcom’s evidence & analysis which stakeholders have not previously had the opportunity to comment upon, and which are being presented for stakeholder review. The consultation closes on 28 May 2013.
Press release & links
 
FSA: A company has applied to the Food Standards Agency to widen the use of two algal oils under the Novel Food Regulation (EC) No. 258/97.  Views are wanted on the draft opinions, which were prepared by the FSA's independent committee of experts, on these novel food ingredients. Comments should be emailed to the ACNFP Secretariat by Monday 22 April 2013.
Press release & links
 
CLG: Proposed changes could save self-builders thousands of pounds by ensuring they are exempt from paying a levy charge that must be paid for all new buildings over a certain size. The consultation closes on 28 May 2013.
Press release & links
 
ScotGov: Plans to simplify & overhaul Scotland’s allotment rules were announced last week, with the consultation closing on 24 May 2013.
Press release & links
 
LC: The Law Commission is consulting on reform of the law relating to groundless threats of litigation over patents, trade marks & design rights. Infringement litigation can be disruptive & expensive.  The mere threat may cause significant commercial damage to a business by driving customers away.
 
The law therefore provides protection to businesses that discover that customers & others involved with a product are receiving groundless threats that the product infringes patent, trade mark or design rights. The Commission concludes that this protection is still needed.   The consultation closes 17 July 2013.
Press release & links ~ Patents, Trade Marks and Design Rights: Groundless Threats
 
BIS: Plans to bring in a new ‘superfast’ patent processing service, which will be capable of granting patents in just 90 days, have been confirmed (Currently it can take a number of years to gain patent protection).   The government has published a consultation on how the service should work (closes on 12 June 2013).
Press release & links
 
OFT: The OFT has launched a study into the 'quick house sale' market and is calling for people who have used, or considered using, these businesses to contact the OFT about their experiences. Comments should be sent by 16 May 2013.
 
Quick house sale providers offer to buy a house or find a third party buyer very quickly, usually at a discount from the full market value.  While providers may offer a valuable service, the OFT is concerned that some practices might lead to homeowners receiving much less for their property than it is worth.  Any losses could be very high. 
Press release & links
 
MoJ: A new consultation sets out proposals for fee remissions (Waivers) for courts & tribunals which are ‘better targeted, fairer for the taxpayer and easy for users to understand’

The remission system will continue to ensure access to justice is maintained for people on lower incomes who would otherwise have difficulty paying a fee, by providing the service free of charge or at a reduced rate. Consultation closes on 16 May 2013.
Press release & links ~ Consultation
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