Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Extension of Time Limits for Legal Proceedings) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 Debate

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Department: Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Extension of Time Limits for Legal Proceedings) (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020

Lord Singh of Wimbledon Excerpts
Wednesday 16th September 2020

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Grand Committee
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Lord Singh of Wimbledon Portrait Lord Singh of Wimbledon (CB) [V]
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My Lords, the regulations are welcome and necessary to enable consumer rights under EEC regulations to be protected before the end of the transition period. It is important to ensure that EU legislation continues to work effectively in the UK after the end of the transition period.

While 60% of consumer rights disputes are settled directly with the business or supplier concerned, where these are unresolved most consumers would still prefer an alternative to formal litigation. The eight-week grace period after a failure to settle a dispute through an alternative dispute procedure and embarking on legal proceedings is welcome. It will help to ensure that the UK and EU consumers can enter into ADR processes in good faith, without fear of strict time limits to bring a case to court.

This is a sensible approach and a good beginning to protecting consumer rights before the end of the transition period, but there is a long way to go in meeting the challenges of wider consumer protection, covering nearly 100 directives on consumer rights. This will not be helped by the recent souring of relations between us and Europe. The EU consumer protection laws, which we helped to frame over 40 years, enable us to purchase goods and services with confidence and enhance our trade with the EU. We still have a long way to go in our increasingly fraught negotiations with Europe to preserve those rights. There is also a need for more resources to ensure compliance with our new independent standards.

I close with the words of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute:

“Much has been made of maintaining the UK’s post-Brexit standards of regulation, but rules without resources for application, advice and enforcement are rendered ineffective and detrimental to the UK economy.”