Proposed new rights for consumers to sue for misleading and aggressive practices
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer llp Proposed new rights for consumers to sue for
misleading and aggressive practices
Last month, the UK government released further proposals to change consumer law – this
time, by allowing consumers to sue traders who breach the Consumer Protection from
Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (the CPRs) and specifying the remedies that they would
obtain if successful.
In this briefing we examine the main proposals and how they could affect you. In short:
businesses should prepare for increased exposure to consumer claims, which could be•
encouraged by competitors;
the remedies available are likely to include damages and rights to unwind certain•
the government is seeking comments on the proposal before 11 October 2013. We are•
preparing responses and would welcome your views.
Misleading and aggressive commercial practices
The CPRs criminalise misleading and aggressive commercial practices by businesses towards
consumers. They are enforced by Trading Standards and the OFT, either via criminal
prosecutions or through the process set out in Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002, which allows
enforcers to seek statutory undertakings or court orders to prohibit conduct that breaches
these and other consumer protection regulations. In many cases, the CPRs are also the
statutory backdrop for the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA)’s assessment of
advertisements and company websites.
Consumers cannot currently bring claims for damages against traders for breach of the CPRs.
Instead, a consumer might have to rely on making a complaint to the ASA (which cannot
award damages) or on another legal basis, for example misrepresentation, which may well
be difficult to establish. A report by the joint Law Commissions of England & Wales and
Scotland in 2012 was critical of the situation and the government now wishes to offer
consumers clearer and simpler redress for misleading and aggressive commercial practices.
The government proposes to introduce legislation that would create:
a private right of redress for consumers who have been victims of misleading or•
aggressive practices. A consumer will have a right to redress if the trader’s misleading or
aggressive practice was a significant factor in the consumer’s decision to enter into the
contract or make a payment;
Misleading and aggressive
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Proposed new rights for
consumers to sue for
misleading and aggressive