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April 2016 sees reform for UK Consumer Law

As the new year is the time for re-evaluating our lifestyles, ditching the endless gorging of the festive period in favour of dieting and exercise regimes, so too is it the perfect opportunity for businesses to reflect on the recent legal changes affecting the methods and practices they adopted and appraising what, if any, improvement plans need to be put in place.

April 2016 sees the final implementation date of a comprehensive reform of UK consumer law first embarked on by government in 2013. The centrepiece, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (2015 Act), was one element of the on-going EU-wide enhancement programme designed to protect core consumer rights. Its provisions make it incumbent on every business that trades with consumers
(now extended to some extent to sole traders and ‘homeworking’ professionals) to review their practices from a legal aspect to ensure compliance.

The 2015 Act also creates enhanced consumer remedies that can be imposed by public enforcers and consolidates some of the existing 60 pieces of legislation in respect of their enforcement powers. Indeed the Information Commissioners Office reported a 43% increase in new data breach new cases in the second quarter of 2015/16 year (July to September 2015) in respect of data breaches.
Just one aspect of the act is dealing with new rights and remedies in respect of digital content. The new regime now requires all businesses, no matter how big or small, to review their methodology when engaging with customers.

Substantive changes to how information needs to be presented, increased rights of cancellation and new rights in light of changing technology are just a few of the changes introduced and the start of the year makes it the perfect time to audit your own practices and ensure compliance.