Consumer regulation has grown exponentially over recent years. Notably, the Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA") has taken over from the OFT to become the regulator for the majority of the consumer credit firms. Now with the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 ("CRA 2015"), in force from 1 October 2015, the regulatory environment is changing once again.
We have watched the progress of the Consumer Rights Bill, which implements the Consumer Rights Directive 2011/83/EU. The CRA 2015 consolidates existing statutory protections for consumers and enhances consumer rights in dealing with misleading and aggressive selling, food labelling and payment surcharges. It also consolidates over 60 pieces of legislation on trading standards' powers to investigate beaches of consumer law into one statute. Perhaps the most far reaching effect of the Bill however, will be to enable opt-out collective actions where breaches of consumer or competition law are said to have taken place. It will also assist consumers in obtaining redress across Europe.
This legal landscape has become difficult for SMEs to navigate as while many now find themselves regulated by the FCA, local Trading Standards Authorities are in fact the lead enforcement agencies for many consumer rights. We can help businesses and consumers understand their rights and protect them where they are challenged. We advise business about the level of regulation appropriate to their needs so that they do not to fall foul of the FCA Consumer Credit Sourcebook or the new obligations on businesses imposed by the CRA 2015.