Enhanced Consumer Measures means Enhanced Business Sanctions for breach of Consumer Rights: The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the “CRA”) has introduced “enhanced consumer measures” in an attempt to help consumers in a more direct and practical way than previously. Criminal prosecutions and civil injunctions against, and undertakings from, offending businesses will remain available in the fight against offending conduct; but the new provisions will provide greater flexibility to those who enforce consumer legislation (principally, Trading Standards Officers).
The Department of Business Innovation and Skills has published guidance on the new civil powers under the CRA. Whilst aimed at enforcers, the guidance is also helpful to businesses, in helping them understand the measures that may be taken against them if they fail to comply with the CRA.
The “enhanced consumer measures” allow enforcers (but not consumers), in addition or as an alternative to criminal and civil prosecutions, and where it is just, reasonable and proportionate, to:
- Order an offending business to reimburse customers for any financial loss they have suffered as a result of infringement
- Order an offending business, where specific customers cannot be readily identified, to pay an appropriate sum to a consumer charity
- Order an offending business to advertise its breach or offending conduct, in the press, on its websites, and in its stores
- Publicise any breach or offending conduct on the Trading Standards website
- Order an offending business to overhaul its internal practices to ensure there can be no repeat of the infringement (for example, appointing a compliance officer, updating the internal processes and staff training)
The new enhanced consumer measures seek to plug the gap between the existing limited injunctive powers and a full criminal prosecution. They also seek to prevent the spread of continuing unlawful behaviour by securing positive remedial action by businesses.
The guidance is helpful as it offers examples and case studies, highlighting the circumstances under which it may be appropriate for enforcers to use the enhanced consumer measures.
The Government intends to bring the enhanced consumer measures into force on 1 October 2015.