Government has announced, following consultation, new measures are being introduced to “shield online consumers from rip-offs”. This includes tackling fake online reviews by making it clearly illegal to pay someone to write or host them.
To strengthen the enforcement of consumer protections, the government is to give the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) enhanced powers to tackle bad business practices. The CMA will be able to directly enforce consumer law, replacing going through a lengthy court process. Tough penalties for non-compliance will see the CMA able to punish consumer law breaches with fines worth up to 10% of a business’s global turnover.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published the consultation outcome on Reforming competition and consumer policy.
The government response to this consultation outlines policies under three themes:
- competition reforms to create a best-in-class competition law system fit for the digital age, through strengthening enforcement against illegal anticompetitive conduct and creating a more active pro-competitive strategy for the CMA
- consumer rights reforms to allow the law to keep pace with the speed of digital innovation, keeping consumers safe from fake reviews
- consumer enforcement reforms to ensure the CMA has the right tools at its disposal to tackle the biggest consumer problems across all markets, while reforms to arbitration and mediation will help consumers and traders fix their problems more effectively on their own.
NB Primary legislation may be required for some of these changes, which may not be enacted until 2023.