Consumer Rights and Brexit
Talking about Brexit is a minefield. On one hand, it’s everywhere. Check your phone or turn on the TV and you’re likely to be bombarded with the latest news. At the same time; we all have an opinion and so does everyone else. It can be difficult not to get caught in a war of words about right and wrong, or get confined to one side. But let’s have a look at what some of the experts think about current developments will affect us: the consumer.
We live in a time where there is equally as much uncertainty as there is hope for the future. There is plenty of fear about surrounding the coming Brexit deal to remove the U.K. from the EU. Many people wonder where this will leave us as a nation and as a part of the world.
One of the key concerns from UK citizens is the possibility of what is known as a ‘no-deal’ Brexit. In this outcome, no official trade deal between the EU and the UK will have been reached. Additionally, no formal conclusion about the circumstances of our leaving will be finalised.
Some key economics analysts conclude that this could have negative impacts on our GDP, could cause an increase in borrowing or significant job losses. The government’s own findings project the benefit of Brexit not really being felt until after a 15 year period, with lost ground until that point. Naturally these factors would have severe impact on our economy and therefore our life as consumers. It comes with the possibility of less organised and formalised trade agreements while we try to secure our position. This could means more relaxed laws regarding consumerism and fewer rights overall.
There has been plenty of work to ensure that we’re not left stranded by the upcoming separation from the EU. Since 2017, The House of Lords have had an ongoing committee with the aim ensuring the rights of the consumer. This committee has gone into detail looking at existing UK and EU legislation. These meeting are continuing to ensure that we are well positioned regarding Brexit and Consumer Rights upon leaving the EU.
Aside from this, there is advice for businesses on the direct.gov website on how to prepare. This begins with initial advice to businesses that for the short term, they just need to keep up with UK Consumer Law. However, businesses that deal with the EU, particularly selling, will need to check the relevant national laws of the country. Alternative Dispute Resolutions will also no longer be relevant. Finally, in the short term, current laws will apply until they are replaced with news ones.
Last month, the Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said “We will take back control of our laws, and disentangle ourselves from the EU‘s legal order, just as was promised to the British people.” The first step is to have only the highest courts in the UK rule on EU rulings. The clearest conclusion seems to be that there will not be any immediate effects after Brexit.
There have been several other highlights to take note of. Card surcharges and the like for purchases made through EU retailers using cards like Mastercard and VISA, still won’t be present. Travel to and from the EU is not likely to be be noticeably affected in any particular way. Of course in the UK there are now the new-style blue passport which makes a return in the UK after around 30 years. This signifies no longer being a part of the EU and joins many other passports out there. Laws that protect products and privacy such as GDPR will remain in place at least until there is new legislation that replaces them.
It seems likely that, at least at first, there won’t be much in the way of differences shortly after Brexit. Section 75 regarding buyer’s protection is a UK and so is not under threat. This law also translates to goods bought from abroad. Projections are that there won’t be changes felt until approximately a year after the current Brexit deadline of 31st January 2020. You should always check the laws of the country from which you are buying just to be certain.
To conclude, whilst there will certainly be changes, it seems that we will all have time to adjust to the road ahead of us and we will all have to do our best to work within new rules and legislature to make commerce work as well as it can.
To see relevant laws and rulings, read here.