Consumer law | UK Regulatory Outlook April 2023
Published on 27th Apr 2023
The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill | Fitness check on EU consumer law: consultation outcomes
The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill
The UK Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill was introduced to Parliament on 25 April 2023. Consumer protection aspects of the bill bring a new regime for subscriptions, including new cancellation rights after free trials and upon annual renewal. Businesses will also need to provide a summary of the points about the contract in the user interface itself immediately before consumers enter into the contract.
The government has also given itself powers to introduce new blacklisted offences which are widely anticipated to relate to reviews, which will most likely put the responsibility for checking that reviews are genuine on platforms.
Finally the bill gives the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) more powers for enforcement of consumer law, including by investigating the suspected infringements of consumer protection law by businesses and the ability to directly impose fines up to 10% of the turnover for firms found to be in breach.
The bill also puts the Digital Markets Unit (DMU) in the CMA, active in shadow form since its inception in April 2021, onto a statutory footing, and will give it powers to regulate powerful digital firms with Strategic Market Status (SMS) designated as such by the DMU.
For competition law aspects of the bill please see the Competition section.
Please see our Insight on the topic for more details.
Fitness check on EU consumer law: consultation outcomes
The European Commission has published outcomes of its public consultation in relation to its fitness check of EU consumer law on digital fairness. The consultation ran between 28 November 2022 and 20 February 2023. The fitness check aims to assess the effectiveness of the current consumer law regulation in the EU to ensure a high level of consumer protection.
The report provides in particular:
- A summary of problematic commercial practices and contract terms identified by the consumers.
- Stakeholders' perception of the existing consumer protection legislation in the EU (adequacy of the current level of consumer protection in the digital environment; whether businesses comply with their obligations under EU consumer law; the scope for simplification, amongst other things).
- Stakeholders' view on possible ways of improving EU consumer law in the digital environment, and more.