Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Businesses to be consulted on changes to consumer law

Businesses to be consulted on changes to consumer law

DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM News Release (PN/259) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 10 November 2008

The Government has today opened a consultation on European plans to create a uniform set of consumer rights across Europe.

The new Consumer Rights Directive sets out proposals for harmonised rules on several key consumer areas including protection against unfair contract terms and rules on faulty goods.

New rules on shopping over the Internet are also proposed, as well as an extension of rights for consumers who use door-step sellers. The European Commission's plans incorporate proposals put forward by the UK for doorstep-selling.

If the proposal becomes law consumers shopping from anywhere in the EU will benefit from:

* A 14 day cooling-off period for purchases made online or on the door-step;
* Consistent protections when goods are not delivered;
* Clearer rules on the responsibilities of both traders and consumers in returning goods;
* Stronger protections for consumers buying at home from doorstep-sellers.

The proposal will also seek to create consistent rules on what rights consumers have when goods are faulty. In the UK, consumers have a legal right to reject faulty goods and ask for a refund. The European Commission are proposing a different system that would allow the trader to offer repair or replacement, with a refund only being legally required in a more limited range of circumstances.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) will consult on the proposals until February 2nd.

BERR has also asked the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission to look at the legal remedies available to consumers when they buy goods which do not conform to contract. The Commissions launch their consultation on these proposals today.

Ends.

To find out more about BERR's consultation go to http://www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/consumers/policy/eu/review/index.html

For further details on the European Commission review - http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/rights/docs/Directive_final_EN.pdf.

Further details on the Law Commissions project can be found at http://www.lawcom.gov.uk/consumer_remedies.htm and
http://www.scotlawcom.gov.uk/html/cpconsumer.htm. The full consultation paper and a summary are available to download.

The Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission are non-political independent bodies, set up by Parliament in 1965 to keep all the law of England and Wales and of Scotland under review, and to recommend reform where it is needed.

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