FSCP: Consumer Rights Bill won’t work

The FSCP has called for exemption from the ‘fairness’ test - the exemption should apply only to a transparent price, agreed by the consumer at the point of entering the contract, and not to variable future fees or charges which are unknown at the time the contract is signed.

The definition of ‘average’ consumer - the phrase ‘taking into account social, cultural and linguistic factors’ should be added to the definition in the Bill, to account for groups of consumers with different characteristics. This would also bring the definition in line with European Courts of Justice jurisprudence.

And the right to cancel for mortgage prisoners - the right to cancel may not protect consumers who cannot secure an alternative mortgage product. This set of circumstances should be added to the indicative list of unfair contract terms.

The Bill, which is due to have its second reading today, aims to update consumer law and clarify and simplify rights on goods and services for consumers and businesses.

While the Panel welcomes the Bill and the numerous positive benefits it will undoubtedly bring, it believes these amendments will make the legislation even more effective.

Sue Lewis, Consumer Panel chair, said: “The Panel fully supports the introduction of the Consumer Rights Bill but we think it needs improvements to work better for financial services consumers, who are at particular risk of detriment.

“We would like to see the issues we have identified addressed as the Bill passes through Parliament.

“Given this is the most radical overhaul of consumer law for more than three decades, it is important we get it right.”