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HM Treasury and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills jointly launched their 'better deal' paper on 30 November 2015.
The purpose of this policy paper is to try to boost competition in the economy and to lower bills for consumers and businesses.
So what proposed new policies should lawyers be keeping an eye out for?
After the coming into force of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 in October 2015, many lawyers were hoping to enjoy a relatively fallow period in consumer law. Fortunately, this is still likely to be the case--however, they should be alive to the developments below.
Of particular interest is the work which the government has given to Which? to investigate the fairness of consumer terms and conditions and the consultation on the possible introduction of civil fines.
The key consumer protection announcements in the policy paper relate to:
It remains to be seen how much 'push back' the above proposals will have from businesses.
In the meantime, it is certainly a good idea for businesses to check that their business-to-consumer terms and conditions comply with all new consumer legislation. Do they, for example, comply with the information provision requirements under the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013?
For further information on drafting 'smarter' terms and conditions and the latest thinking on how to make them work for a business (eg from the European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)), subscribers to Lexis®PSL Commercial can refer to Practice Note: Consumer standard terms and conditions--the business context.
The government remains committed to its procurement agenda, seeking to widen the procurement marketplace so that more businesses bid for public sector work.
To this end, it wants to follow the approach that it has taken in its Digital Marketplace--where authorities can find technology or people for digital projects in the public sector--to create a Crown Marketplace. The Crown Marketplace will follow the approach of the Digital Marketplace to the purchase of other common goods and services in government.
Small and medium size businesses (SMEs) have amounted to 50% by value and 60% by volume of the Digital Marketplace and the government is keen to extend this success for SMEs to its new venture.
The government is also keen to:
So what do you think? Some useful initiatives? Or should the government be concentrating on other areas of concern? Do let us have your thoughts below.
This article first appeared in Lexis®PSL Commercial.
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