Legal News – August 2014

Consumer protection: guidance on new rights for consumers where misleading and aggressive commercial practices

Consumers will have new remedies in cases where a trader lies or uses aggressive commercial practices, and will be able to seek redress by bringing private actions in the civil courts, under the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014 SI 2014/870. The government has issued guidance which aims to help businesses and consumers understand their rights, obligations and liabilities under the regulations, which come into force on 1 October 2014. The guidance document is split into two parts, covering the triggers for the new rights and what the new rights are. It also sets out the sectors not covered by the regulations, including real estate, financial services and credit agreements (except restricted-use credit agreements). In addition, the guidance includes sections on what types of transactions are covered, consumer payments and civil recovery (eg where a customer is accused of shoplifting and asked to pay a fee to avoid prosecution), the average consumer test and the due diligence defence for traders.

Social media: changes to Facebook terms on marketing

Facebook is making significant changes to its terms which will take effect from 5 November 2014 and will have an impact on organisations using Facebook for advertising and sales promotions. The main change is that Facebook page owners will no longer be permitted to require Facebook users to like a page to gain access to Facebook app content, eg to enter a promotion or competition or to download an e-book. This practice is known as like-gating and has been a common way for pages to increase their number of likes. It operates like a virtual barrier to stop users from gaining access to certain content until the user likes the page. The new restriction will not apply to promotions on the page itself, as opposed to apps. Facebook says that rationale for this is 'to ensure quality connections and help businesses reach the people who matter to them, we want people to like Pages because they want to connect and hear from the business, not because of artificial incentives.' It believes that this update will benefit people and advertisers alike. Facebook has also said that games which include mandatory or optional in-app charges must now disclose this in their app's description, either on Facebook or other platforms it supports. This is to give people a clear indication that your game may charge people during gameplay.

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