UK: Consumer Protection Strengthened Against Misleading Or Aggressive Trading Practices

Last Updated: 6 November 2013
Article by Paul Herbert and Zachary Brown

On 06 August 2013 the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published the Draft Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (the "Draft Regulations") for scrutiny.

According to BIS, unfair consumer practices incur a cost to the economy of around £3.3 billion a year and 60% of the population has fallen victim to unscrupulous traders. Elderly and vulnerable consumers are particularly susceptible to misleading or aggressive trading practices which take place, for example, through door-step selling.

The Draft Regulations represent an attempt by BIS to provide greater protection for consumers against these practices and are intended to address shortcomings in the current regime, which was created by the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 ("CPUT").

The Draft Regulations will provide consumers with a new direct right of redress against traders for misleading or aggressive practices, as well as extending the protection provided by CPUT to cover misleading and aggressive demands for payment.

Direct right of redress for consumers

Under the existing consumer protection regime, consumers have no right to take direct action against traders for misleading or aggressive practices. Consequently, consumers' rights can only be enforced by public bodies such as the Office of Fair Trading or Trading Standards Services taking action on their behalf. This represents a key shortfall in UK consumer protection when compared to many other European countries, such as Ireland, where consumers are permitted to take action in their own right.

The Draft Regulations will remedy this shortcoming by providing consumers with a new right to take direct action against traders. The new right will be available in respect of all transactions, including transactions involving digital content (more on this below). However, financial services (except consumer credit and debt collection) and land transactions (except residential leases) will be excluded.

For the right to redress to be available, consumers must satisfy a series of conditions:

  • Contract or payment – The consumer must enter into a contract with the trader or make a payment to the trader.
  • Prohibited practice – The trader must have engaged in a misleading action or aggressive practice which causes or is likely to cause the "average consumer" to take a transactional decision which he would not have done otherwise. This does not extend to misleading omissions. The "average consumer" is considered to be reasonably well-informed, observant and circumspect, although this test is relaxed in respect of consumers who are considered to be vulnerable.
  • Significant factor – The prohibited practice must have been a significant factor in the consumer's decision to enter into the contract or make the payment. This will be judged by reference to the consumer in question rather than the average consumer.

What remedies are available?

Where a consumer satisfies the conditions for the right to redress, several remedies will be available to him:

  • Right to unwind – Both parties will be released from their obligations under the contract and the consumer may receive a full refund. The consumer must exercise the right to unwind within 90 days of the date the contract is entered into or the date the goods are delivered, whichever is the later. If the consumer has used some of the product and can only return part of it, or if a service has been partly performed, the right to unwind will still be available provided that the product in question is capable of rejection in the sense that it has not been fully consumed or performed. Consumers are required to make any goods available for collection by the trader.
  • Right to a discount – The consumer may receive a discount on the price paid. The amount of discount depends on the level of seriousness of the prohibited practice, ranging from a 25% discount for minor consumer detriment to 100% for very serious detriment. The 90-day limit does not apply to this right and there is no requirement that the goods are capable of rejection. Where a consumer has the right to a discount either the consumer or the trader may also choose to terminate the contract.
  • Right to damages – Consumers may claim damages for financial loss or for distress, physical discomfort and inconvenience caused by the prohibited practice if the purpose of the contract was to provide pleasure, relaxation or peace of mind. This right is also not subject to the 90-day limit and there is no requirement that the goods are capable of rejection. However, the right to damages will be limited to the amount (if any) the consumer was unable to recover by exercising the other rights.

A consumer may claim either the right to unwind or the right to a discount but not both, although the right to damages is always available. 

Misleading or aggressive demands for payment

The Draft Regulations also extend the scope of the current regime by protecting consumers from misleading or aggressive demands for payment which may not involve the supply of goods or services. For example, demands from debt collection agencies or demands from utility companies made to consumers who are not customers.

Where consumers make payments to traders in response to misleading or aggressive demands, they will have a direct right to unwind the payment if they were "not required" to make all or part of it. The consumer will receive back any amount he was not required to pay. There is no requirement for a contract, no 90-day limit applies and it is not necessary for there to be a product which is capable of rejection.

Digital content

The Draft Regulations will apply to transactions where digital content has been supplied in return for money or virtual currency, meaning that consumers will enjoy significantly greater protection in transactions concerning games, music and other forms of content or downloads. For the purposes of the right to unwind, digital content will only be considered to have been fully consumed if it has been available to the consumer for a fixed period and that period has expired.


The Government has yet to announce a date when the draft Regulations will come into force. However, it is clear that the regulations will apply to commercial practices which began before the coming into force date and continue after that date (though consumers will only be able to exercise their direct right to redress where a contract has been entered into or a payment made after the coming into force date) as well as any commercial practices which begin on or after the coming into force

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.