Consumer Law is the area of law which provides protection to the consumer when they purchase a product or service. The Law ensures that consumers are protected against such issues as fraud or mis-selling and that consumer markets abide by the rules and regulations of this directive. Consumer Law also protects organisations, for example regarding issues of copyright or intellectual property right theft.
What does this type of 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 the OFT and Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS)
- 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. Lawyers are expected to provide quick and efficient advice on defective or unsafe products, taking into account legislation and regulation, including between international networks
- Involvement with drafting mortgage and security documentation, advising on activities requiring FSA authorisation and issues such as debt collection and PPI under the Financial Services practice area.
What skills are required?
Consumer Law is ever-changing and often litigious. It affects all areas of life, from buying a house to travel and holidays, telecommunications and even ticket touting for major entertainment events. Thus, 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 judgement are required by firms and sets employing consumer lawyers.
Lawyers working in this area are as busy, if not busier, than ever. In recent years there have been a number of changes in the area of consumer law which businesses need to be aware of and which give scope for consumers to seek redress. The most recent change was the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which brings together and clarifies a number of previous pieces of legislation and continues to expand the scope of legislation to come up to date with the digital world.