What does consumer law mean?
Consumer law provides protection to the consumer against issues like fraud or mis-selling when they purchase a product or service. Consumer markets have to abide by the rules and regulations of this directive.
This practice area also protects organisations regarding issues like copyright or intellectual property rights theft.
Consumer protection is a selection of laws that protect individual consumers against unfair selling practices for goods, services and digital content.
What does a consumer protection lawyer do?
Consumer law is wide ranging and consumer lawyers deal with many issues such as:
- Advising on consumer credit which includes drafting credit agreements, acting in court proceedings and representations at hearings before, for example the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
- Trading standards where lawyers work for individuals, businesses and enforcement agencies across the full range of trading standards issues such as misleading pricing, underage sales and trademark infringement. Prosecutions are made under Acts such as the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or the Enterprise Acts 2002.
- Providing advice concerning consumer contracts to see that employers comply with the relevant Acts with regards to standard terms and conditions or, conversely, assisting consumers with unfair terms of an agreement.
- Dealing with designers, manufacturers, importers, retailers and consumers in a range of sectors such as cosmetics, food and beverages and pharmaceuticals when dealing with product safety and liability.
Skills required to be a consumer protection lawyer
This practice area is ever changing and often litigious as it affects all areas of life from buying a house, to travelling and even ticket touting for major entertainment events.
The ability to absorb a wealth of information and provide advice or draft documentation quickly and efficiently is essential. Due diligence is a big part of the work and so attention to detail is a must.
A flair for advocacy and the ability to think on your feet under pressure is required as both barristers and solicitor-advocates are involved in consumer law work in court. High intellectual ability and sound judgment are required by firms and sets employing consumer lawyers.
What are the different types of consumer disputes?
According to Consumer Right 2015 consumers can pursue these matters via the small claims court:
- Being sold faulty electrical goods
- Non-delivery of goods bought online
- New motor vehicles which are defective
- Dispute over insurance claims or coverage
- Law quality work from tradesman (plumbers, electricians, builders)
- Furniture that is a low quality or not as described
- Product or service warranty disputes
- Refund problems with airlines, hotels and tour operators
The Consumer Rights Act provides statutory rights, so any items consumers buy must be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and match the description given when sold.
How to become a consumer protection lawyer?
If you qualify through the SQE, you will also need to complete two years of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). To prepare for the SQE, we recommend studying one of our SQE courses, which have been designed to give you the knowledge and skills for a successful career as a solicitor.
If you’re eligible to study the LPC, you will need to get a two-year training contract with a law firm. To find out what route is right for you, see our Becoming a Solicitor page.
Once you complete your two-year training contract or QWE, you can apply to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) to be admitted as a solicitor.
To become a barrister, you will need to have completed an undergraduate law degree, or if you are a non-law graduate, a conversion course, before completing the Bar Practice Course (BPC). You will then need to secure pupillage.
Apart from educational qualifications, being a consumer protection lawyer requires a person well tuned into the economy and consumer facing business. As the areas of consumer law involved are varied and subject to rapid change, a genuine interest in the way society consumes and what our values are as consumers is a prerequisite.
What is the salary of a consumer lawyer?
A newly qualified solicitor in a firm outside of the city or smaller consumer practice may expect to earn around £20,000 to £40,000. An average consumer solicitor salary in London is anything from £30,000 to £70,000 based on five years’ experience according to Reed.com. For those with over ten years' experience, earnings can range from £40,000 to £120,000. Those based in London and bigger cities will often earn more too.
Gaining consumer law work experience
Get to know consumer law from the UK Government website and The European Union.