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The House of Commons Library has impressed the team here at Comet this week.
Not because of its knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System (anybody remember that?), nor because of its ability to remain calm in the face of a typical request (How To Be An MP is the most borrowed book in Parliament).
No, we're impressed because of the frankly superb briefing which it has compiled and published for MPs, new and old, on the key issues for the 2015-2020 Parliament.
If you have time, check out the 116-page PDF.
If you haven't (more likely), in this post is a summary for commercial lawyers of the most salient issues.
The researchers discuss the new Consumer Rights Act regime and, to be fair, don't have much to add.
After all, the hard work reviewing, dismantling and rebuilding consumer law has now been done. For now. They do, however, note that:
The success of this new regime will ultimately depend on how well consumers and traders understand their rights and responsibilities.
However, the report doesn't mention recent European initiatives such as proposed online sales laws (see our recent post: Online sales law: out with the old, in with the … ?) which may throw a spanner in the works of the new consumer landscape. How big that spanner is at the moment is open to question.
So, on to more contentious matters:
The House of Commons Library has a bit more to say about the various scandals which have engulfed the industry in recent years, from PPI to irresponsible pay-day lending.
It bemoans the 'low levels of financial accountability' among consumers, questions the appropriate level of fines and whether more individuals being sanctioned by the regulators will change the behaviour of others.
It concludes with perhaps the biggest questions of all:
Financial capability has become still more important now that people aged 55 and over have greater freedom about when and how to draw their defined
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