BEIS are conducting a statutory review and publishing a report on whether the Consumer Contract (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulation 2013 which came into force across the UK in 2014 has achieved its intended objectives. The review closes on 1 May 2019.
The EU legislation that underpins the regulation stipulates that the it should not go beyond or below the provision of the EU legislation when transposed in to UK law. Depending on the outcome of Brexit negotiations the regulation may/will be retained and/or remain harmonised with EU regulation. The current call for evidence does not include proposals for change of the existing regulation. However, the 2018 Green Paper and the forthcoming Consumer White Paper falling out of it, does seeks to ensure that the legal framework is fit for modern purpose on both on-premises and distant contracts. The evidence gleaned in this review will clearly be used to help further inform thinking around the White Paper and, thus it may indirectly result in fundamental change.
Elements of the full review and questions 1 to 30 (consolidated list at Annex C page 20 – 22) may well be of interest to various tourism/leisure/visitor economy businesses. Of more pressing strategic interest to all will be some of the references to tourism related goods and services under the “Cancellation rights and responsibilities for distance and off premises sales” at page 13 and the seemingly innocuous associated question 18.
Under the sub paragraph “Scope of the CCR’s cancellation provision” the paper points out that: “hotel bookings, flights, car hire, concerts and other ticket or services relating to leisure activities to take place on a specified period” are currently exempt from the legislation. Critically it goes on to say: ” Initial feedback from some stakeholders suggest that in some circumstance, certain exemptions could be causing detriment, for example hotel bookings (an area of interest to CMA [Competition and Markets Authority] ) and urgent repairs We are keen to gather further views and evidence”.
Clearly the business areas currently covered by the exemption are fairly central to the interests of most destinations and any changes, especially but not exclusively around cancellation and refund rights could have significant impacts on some businesses and some types of business model? I am also conscious, particularly in view of the recent CMA actions against certain online travel agents, that the views on whether the exemptions work in favour of the majority of business interests and those of “destinations” as a whole will be mixed. So much so that at this point in time I can’t yet venture to offer an informed opinion on which way to lean when respond and/or contribute to the submissions of others including that of our own trade body the Tourism Alliance.
In these circumstances I would welcome more than ever your views and those of your key business partners on the pros and cons of the current exemptions and the potential intended and unintended consequence of any possible changes.
The full call for evidence can be accessed at: 2019 BEIS consumer contract regulations review