Consumer law | UK Regulatory Outlook January 2023
Published on 27th Jan 2023
UK consumer law reform | Dark patterns enforcement | Fitness check of EU consumer law
UK consumer law reform
In April 2022, the UK government announced its plans to reform UK consumer law to strengthen consumer protection and enforcement. The issues which will be considered are fake reviews, subscriptions and package travel rules. Please see our Insight for more details.
Draft primary legislation is now expected in February, with the bill progressing through Parliament over the next year. There are also likely to be updates to the blacklisted offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which could happen more quickly, expected to include reviews and possibly greenwashing offences.
Dark patterns enforcement
Another emerging hot topic in consumer law this year (in both the UK and EU) are dark patterns (manipulative online selling practices). The UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has recently announced an investigation into Emma Group's online "urgency" claims. This enforcement action forms a part of a wider investigation into potentially harmful online selling practices within the CMA's Online Choice Architecture work and shows the CMA's intention to further address this issue. The investigation will cover, in particular, online pressure selling practices (for example countdown clocks) and eye-catching discount offers where the real price does not match the claimed offer. We discuss the CMA's investigation in more detail in our Insight.
The issue is also very topical elsewhere in Europe. The Norwegian Consumer Council has recently published a report on the issue and the regulator in the Netherlands has updated its guidance. We anticipate that there will be increased regulatory scrutiny across Europe in 2023. Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation enforcement on dark patterns is a real possibility.
While more developments on the topic are anticipated, you can also visit our Dark patterns microsite for more information.
Fitness check of EU consumer law
The EU launched its latest fitness check of EU consumer law as part of its New Consumer Agenda. The first stage of this is a consultation on the broad issues to help the EU understand which issues are considered most important to stakeholders. The consultation runs until 20 February 2023.
The EU is currently consulting on a number of proposals on what should be included in the new legislation. These include a new general fairness act, specific regulation of digital interactions with consumers, an express ban on dark patterns as well as EU level legislation on cancellation buttons for subscriptions.