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Government confirms intended changes to UK consumer policy

On 10 May 2022, the UK Government announced that it intends to legislate on measures to promote competition, strengthen consumer rights and protect households and businesses as part of its Digital Markets, Competition and Consumer Bill. This follows on from its response published in April 2022 to its July 2021 consultation “Reforming Competition and Consumer Policy” (Consultation Response).

Our alert, written with Jonathan Kirk QC and Lee Finch of Gough Square Chambers, reviews the proposed key changes to the UK consumer law regime, as set out in the Consultation Response. For details of the planned changes to the competition regime, see our previous alert. 

Overall, the planned consumer reforms give the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) more teeth in its enforcement of UK consumer laws.

In particular, the CMA will be enabled to enforce consumer law directly and to impose monetary penalties for non-compliance on businesses and individuals. Decisions which could lead to the imposition of a monetary penalty will be appealable to the High Court in England and Wales (Court of Session in Scotland). Additional proposed reforms include enhancements to the rules for automatically renewing subscriptions (so-called “subscription traps”), more targeted action on fake reviews, and greater protection for customer payments into consumer prepayment schemes and for package holidays.