New legislation aimed at cracking down on rip-offs, protecting consumer cash online and boosting competition in digital markets has been published.
The new far-reaching Bill will have the following headline benefits:
- New powers aimed at boosting competition in digital markets currently dominated by a small number of firms.
- Clamping down on subscription traps that cost consumers £1.6bn a year, making it easier for consumers to opt out when a free trial or introductory offer is ending.
- Tackling fake reviews so customers aren’t cheated by bogus ratings.
As part of these measures, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will be given new powers to tackle businesses that breach consumer rights law. The Bill will provide the CMA with stronger tools to investigate competition problems and take faster, more effective action, including where companies collude to bump-up prices at the expense of UK consumers.
The CMA will be able to directly enforce consumer law rather than go through lengthy court processes. Both the CMA and the courts will have the power to impose penalties on businesses of up to 10% of global turnover for breaching consumer law or up to £300,000 in the case of an individual.
The new measures will come into effect as soon as possible following parliamentary approval, subject to secondary legislation and the publication of guidance.