Courts could be given new powers to compensate consumers when their rights are breached following a proposal launched by the government today.
The proposals aim to change the way authorities, like trading standards, enforce the law on behalf of consumers, giving them a range of new powers to use in civil courts.
The ‘Civil Enforcement Remedies’ proposals, announced today by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, aim to ensure businesses abide by consumer law and increase good practice.
They also aim to reimburse consumers for money lost due to mis-selling and rip-offs, to boost consumer confidence and to empower consumers to exercise greater choice.
Changes to civil courts
The proposals include introducing a clear complaints-handling scheme so customers know exactly who to contact for help when they have a problem. Other proposals will make it easier for consumers to find out which businesses are trustworthy.
Businesses will need to address the cause of the consumer’s complaint, meaning they cannot simply make a superficial change to solve an individual problem.
Under the new proposals, consumers who have lost a sum of money due to a business breaking the law would be entitled to get their money back.
Boost consumer confidence
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: ‘These new powers should help ensure consumers are no longer left out of pocket if they have been ripped off or are the victims of mis-selling.
‘We hope these proposals will spread better practice among businesses and help boost consumer confidence, which is vital to our economic recovery.
‘We will want to see the authorities, including Trading Standards, using these powers to get consumers a better deal.’
The proposals are out for consultation until 31 December 2012.
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