See small print for details — upcoming changes to the small print requirements

By Debbie Haywood

We are all familiar with the radio adverts at the end of which a breathless actor speed-reads or sings the mandatory ‘legal bits’. No matter how much effort is put into making it sound interesting or even catchy, it never fails to dampen the impact of the ad.

Striking an appropriate balance between informing the consumer, complying with regulatory requirements and not detracting from the product or scaring the consumer off is an ongoing battle, made all the more difficult by continually changing legal requirements. So why do these requirements keep changing? It’s because the consumer environment has changed so dramatically in recent years. We are now far more likely to transact across borders, buy online and do so from a space-limited smartphone screen. This is so far removed from traditional ways of contracting that it’s not surprising the legal framework is constantly playing catch-up.

The European Union has recognised the vital economic importance of easy online and cross-border transactions and is churning away to harmonise laws across member states and for anyone transacting with EU citizens. At the same time, the UK is trying to reform consumer law, currently spread across a multitude of statutes, into a single, fit-for-purpose instrument. How successful these attempts will be, and whether they will genuinely make things easier for the consumer or for businesses, remains to be seen…

Click on the link below to read the rest of the Taylor Wessing briefing. 

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