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The Government’s draft Consumer Rights Bill has the potential to consolidate, simplify and modernise consumer law, but this depends on resolving issues and inconsistencies in the draft, according to a recent report from Parliament’s Business, Innovation and Skills Committee.

While the Bill intends to create enhanced protection for consumers of services, it only includes a statutory right that services under a contract must be provided with reasonable care and skill. According to the report, this fault-based standard will not provide sufficient consumer protection. An outcomes-based standard should be used instead.

The report also identifies a problem in cases where the right to cancel a contract fails to protect consumers. It suggests that the indicative list of possible unfair contract terms should be extended to cover consumers who might find themselves in this situation.

Other recommendations include:

  • Allowing private enforcers to use the proposed enhanced consumer measures, as well as public enforcers – who may not have resources to use them widely enough.
  • Clarifying the certification requirements for collective proceedings, in order to avoid them becoming bogged down in procedural problems.
  • Removing the inconsistencies in proposals to create consumer rights and remedies relating to digital content, such as music downloads.

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Contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v2.0.