Does the OFT’s Unfair Terms Hub really make unfair contract terms easy?

In July 2013, the Office of Fair Trading (the OFT) announced the launch of its new ‘Unfair Terms Hub’. The Hub aims to provide guidance to businesses on the regulations that affect contract terms in business-to-consumer agreements. 

While any entity that deals with consumers must have regard to the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 when preparing consumer product terms and conditions, the Act focuses on terms that exclude or restrict liability. The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (the Regulations) however, regulate unfair terms more generally.  They have wide-scale application, applying across all areas of business, including financial services, and to all standard form contracts entered into since 1 July 1995.

The Regulations are of particular importance for businesses within the financial services sector, as the Financial Services Authority (FSA)/Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) makes it clear that compliance with the Regulations is a key element in its ‘Treating Customers Fairly’ policy. Compliance is a visible indicator that a firm is treating customers fairly and the FSA/FCA expects that firms will have all the necessary systems and controls in place to achieve this…

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