Brexit and UK consumer law

BEIS has published draft regulations to make amendments to legislation that enforce laws protecting consumers’ rights in the UK.

26 October 2018

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published draft regulations to make amendments to legislation that enforce laws protecting consumers’ rights in the UK. The draft regulations are made under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 as part of the UK Government's preparations for Brexit.

Key changes under the Draft Regulations

Under Part 2 of the Draft Regulations, the key changes are the removal of the various EU enforcer bodies including:

  • Amending Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002 (the '2002 Act'). Part 8 allows various enforcement bodies to apply for enforcement orders in cases of breaches of consumer legislation which harm the collective interest of consumers. As a result of the amendments, the rights of enforcers from other EU member states to bring or continue enforcement proceedings in the UK will be removed. It also ensures that UK enforcers retain the same investigatory powers for infringements of retained EU law (set out in Schedule 13 of the 2002 Act).
  • Amending Schedule 5 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the '2015 Act'). The Draft Regulations make equivalent changes to those in Part 8 of the 2002 Act. They ensure that the same investigatory powers, relating to Schedule 13 infringements, are held by UK enforcers. However they will no longer be able to use these powers for infringements of the laws of other EU member states.
  • amending Part 2 of Schedule 2 of the Data Protection Act 2018 to omit references to 'CPC regulation' and 'community protection enforcer', reflective of amendments to the 2002 Act and the 2015 Act and the CPC Regulations (see further below).

Revoking the CPC Regulation

Part 4 of the Draft Regulations revoke the Consumer Protection Cooperation Regulation (2006/2004) (the 'CPC Regulations') in its entirety. The CPC Regulations set out reciprocal arrangements for EU member states to cooperate in cross-border investigation and enforcement of EU consumer laws. These reciprocal agreements will cease to apply to the UK after Brexit as the UK will no longer be a Member State.

Transitional Provisions

Part 5 of the Draft Regulations sets out transitional provisions relating to exercising of power by enforcers under the 2002 Act and the 2015 Act. It holds that pre-exit day, enforcers are able to exercise functions in relation to Community infringements under the 2002 Act and the 2015 Act. However, post-exit day, Community enforcers are not to exercise any functions under Part 8 of the 2002 Act and cannot continue court proceedings under Part 8 either.

It is important to note that there are no transitional provisions relating to the CPC Regulation.

Implementation of the Draft Regulations

The Draft Regulations will be effective from exit day and demonstrate the Government's approach to ensure that current legislation due to EU membership continues to be operative post Brexit and to ensure that UK consumers are no worse off, whilst removing the direct influence and jurisdiction of EU member state enforcement bodies.

Key contact

Ian Tucker

Ian Tucker Partner

  • Dispute Resolution
  • Transport
  • Procurement and State Aid

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