Proposals to make businesses address the cause of the consumerís complaint


By Claire West

For the first time courts could have a range of powers to give consumers better results when their rights are breached, giving them improved access to justice, Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson announced today.

Today’s ‘Civil Enforcement Remedies’ consultation will change the way authorities like Trading Standards enforce the law on behalf of consumers, giving them a range of new powers to use in civil courts that aim to:

- make sure businesses abide by consumer law and increase good practice

- reimburse consumers for money lost

- boost consumer confidence and empower them to exercise greater choice.

Proposals include giving courts the option of making a business designate a point person who will look at how well a business complies with consumer law. Another option could include introducing a clear complaints-handling scheme so customers know exactly who to contact for help when they have a problem. Other proposals will make it easier for consumers to find out which businesses they can trust and which they cannot.

Jo Swinson said:

“Too often consumers are short changed as the result of criminal prosecutions under consumer law: currently a business is condemned and fined, but nothing is done to repay the money lost by the customer. Instead, customers are forced to foot the bill for costly and time consuming legal action to get their money back.

“When consumers, especially vulnerable consumers, have been wronged they should be able to have free access to justice quickly and simply. With these proposals, when a business has infringed your rights as a consumer the court will make sure they reverse the damage and give consumers their money back. This will put the balance back in the system, and give consumers more power to exercise their choices confidently.”

At present when a business breaks a consumer law, the customer... continued on page two >


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