Demise of the OFT — what next for retailers?

All retailers will be aware of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), and many will be familiar with the OFT’s tripartite role in enforcing competition law, enforcing consumer protection legislation and monitoring and licensing consumer credit, but since the closure of the OFT on 31 March this year, who should retailers now be looking to for guidance and regulation on each of these areas?

The OFT was established in 1973 as a non-ministerial government department with the aim of regulating markets for the benefit of consumers. As part of the UK government’s reforms to the competition and consumer regimes, the OFT ceased to exist on 31 March 2014. Rather than a single new body to take on its role, the OFT’s functions have been spread between a number of different bodies, some old and some new.

Although the closure of the OFT came to pass on 31 March this year, its winding down has in fact been going on for some time. As early as April 2012, the Citizens Advice consumer service took over from the OFT’s Consumer Direct in providing advice to consumers and sharing information it receives with UK enforcement authorities…

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