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Consultation on the role and powers of the Consumer Advocate

Starting Date: 02-12-09

Closing Date: 05-03-10

Background to consultation

In July 2009, the Government published its Consumer White Paper “A Better Deal for Consumers: Delivering Real Help Now and Change for the Future”. This White Paper announced that a Consumer Advocate would be appointed in 2010 to co-ordinate work to educate consumers and be a champion for groups of consumers who have suffered a loss at the hands of a business. One of the commitments we made in the White Paper was to consult on equipping the Advocate with some specific powers.

Purpose of consultation

We want your views on how the Consumer Advocate can successfully deliver real benefits to consumers. We also want to ensure that when the Consumer Advocate is equipped with new powers that he/she will have the ability to do all that we are asking. In particular that the Advocate has an effective power to obtain, as a last resort, compensation for groups of consumers through collective court actions.

Areas for consultation

The consultation seeks views on the initial role of the Consumer Advocate, for example how the Advocate can best improve consumer education and champion the provision of consumer compensation. The consultation then focuses on the key proposal that the Consumer Advocate be granted the power to take, as a last resort, collective actions on behalf of consumers.

In particular it seeks views on:
- the scope of the proposed collective action power,
- the right option in terms of the type of collective action, and
- what conditions should be met before a collective action can be taken.

Finally, the consultation seeks views on the Consumer Advocate having the power to facilitate the return of funds that have been identified as belonging to or due to UK consumers which have been secured by overseas enforcement agencies. And, it also seeks views on whether the Advocate needs to be given a specific power to tackle unfairness in consumer credit agreements.

Response to consultation

Responses can be submitted by letter, fax or email to:
Heidi Munn
Consumer and Competition Policy
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
Bay 426, 1 Victoria Street
London SW1H 0ET

Fax: 020 7215 0357
Email: consumeradvocateconsultation@bis.gsi.gov.uk

Consultation Documents