News item

TSI responds to Government review of consumer law

trading standardsThe Trading Standards Institute (TSI) welcomes the Government intention to separate consumer law from the laws that govern commercial transactions, but says it does not go far enough.

TSI has argued for a separate private law for consumers for many years, as its current link to Victorian trading laws makes it unnecessarily complicated and dated.  The Bills of Sale Act for finance car purchases - or log book loans- is a prime example;  with its historic  and commercial origins it leaves modern consumers in a very vulnerable position.   But this area of legislation has been left out of the consultation.

TSI’s chief executive Ron Gainsford said: “We live in an increasingly sophisticated world and many of our laws are archaic trading laws which too often leave consumers unacceptably exposed, create confusion and make redress difficult.

 “We welcome this review of consumer law, but while we think it is a very good piece of work, we would urge the Government to be bolder with its legislative reforms by also revisiting laws that affected the reservation of title in finance agreements and led to the adoption of Hire Purchase and  Bills of Sale.   

“Log book loans heavily favour the lender, leading to very unfair and intrusive outcomes for consumers.  The Hire Purchase Act 1964 was intended as a reform for consumers’ benefit, but has resulted in the re-adoption of unfavourable older legislation.  This has further complicated the position regarding third party rights.  

“The present review is a golden opportunity to put this right by removing both of these agreements, leaving credit arrangements overall clearer, simpler, fair and secure for all parties.

”We must make sure that as an outcome of the Government consultation ‘Enhancing consumer confidence by clarifying consumer law’ we have consumer laws that are straightforward, with clear rights of redress when things go wrong and consistent third party rights – and that we remove loopholes to this that have been created historic quirk and organic growth.”

TSI’s full response to ‘Enhancing consumer confidence by clarifying consumer law – consultation on the supply of goods, services and digital content’ by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills can be viewed on the TSI website.