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Consumer protection law lags due to Brexit

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CONSUMER protection legislation looks unlikely to come into force this year due to the time it is taking to ensure the island is ready for Brexit.

Kate Raleigh, CEO of the Citizens Advice Bureau, will not see a consumer protection law in place before she retires. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 22871866)

Proposals for changes implementing new rights for consumers were approved by the States in 2016 and were said to be going through the drafting process in January.

But while these changes remain on a list of priorities, chief trading standards officer David Mullins said there was currently no set timetable for the law’s introduction.

‘The law officers’ work is currently largely dedicated to ensuring the island is ready for Brexit next March,’ he said.

‘In the meantime, Trading Standards are promoting consumer protection, working with colleagues in Law Enforcement, and have recently issued the Little Book of Big Scams to raise consumer awareness of the many scams which consumers may fall victim to – this booklet can be downloaded.’

The download link can be found at https://bit.ly/2AgSuKH.

Citizens Advice CEO Kate Raleigh said they were aware that consumer protection had fallen down the list of priorities.

She has announced that she intends to retire early next year and said that one of the things the local bureau had fought longest for was for the island to catch up with the UK – and now Jersey – by bringing in rights for consumers.

‘We’ve been fighting for consumer protection since we started,’ said Mrs Raleigh, ‘but it’s fallen down the priorities list.’

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The subject is one of the main issues that advisors at Citizens Advice deal with on a regular basis from people who are unhappy with goods or services provided by a local business.

Earlier this year, Jersey brought in a new law to deal with ‘rogue traders’, under which firms could be fined up to £10,000 if they were found to be in breach.

A total of 31 dishonest trading practices, such as scaremongering customers, advertising prices which were not available and making false claims about membership of a trade association, were outlawed by Jersey’s States in February when it approved the Consumer Protection Law.

The new law in Guernsey would come in as secondary legislation under The Trading Standards (Enabling Provisions) (Guernsey) Law, 2009.

The intention behind the proposed legislation is to provide consumers with clear rights that apply when purchasing goods and services, similar to the rights consumers have in other jurisdictions, including the UK.

As well as making sure that goods and services comply with appropriate standards, the changes will ensure that the information offered to customers allows them to make informed decisions both before purchasing and in the subsequent ‘cooling-off period’.

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