A Consumer Law Report Criticises Hidden Charges

A number of legal reforms were proposed by the Law Commission and the Scottish Law Commission. The intention of these reforms is to protect consumers from unfair charges in contracts.

A report was released today due to which report, courts should have the power to rule on the fairness of prices in cases where they have been hidden away in the small print.

Courts now have the possibility to assess when the terms of the contract are fair and when they are not, but are not allowed to interfere when talking about the actual price.

The suggested reforms will give consumers the option to complain of unfair hidden costs.

These proposals will affect companies offering different kinds of services- from mobile phone contracts to airline tickets.

If prices are clear they will be able to set their own prices. The courts, however, would be allowed to intervene when they find unclear phrasing leading to additional fees or jargon which confuses consumers.

Many companies are in fact tempted to fill their contracts with hidden charges which makes them look as if they offer better deals than their competitors.

According to this report the current law makes it almost impossible for consumers to seek redress.

David Hertzell, the project’s commissioner lead for the Law Commission, said: “The current law is baffling – so much so that consumers and regulators are reluctant to challenge unfair charges.”

Both companies and customers now suffer from the unclearness of the law.

Another proposal of the Commission’s report is on the terms of purchased software. According to it there must be serious changes in the terms to which consumers agree when installing software they have recently bought.

These terms are often full of legal jargon so that consumers are almost never able to find out what exactly they are signing up for

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