Section 8: Promoting good consumer practice
36.This section enables the OFT to set up and undertake an enhanced role in respect of consumer codes of practice produced by a variety of bodies.
37.Subsection (1) sets out the OFT’s general function to promote good practice in the carrying out of activities that may affect the economic interests of consumers in the UK.
38.Subsection (2)provides that the function includes making arrangements to approve consumer codes (as defined in subsection (6)) and both to give and withdraw approval.
39.It is expected that the OFT will use the power in this section to run a two-stage scheme under which bodies will submit their codes for approval. First, it is intended that bodies will develop consumer codes based on core criteria set by OFT. This first stage does not involve approval. OFT will confirm in writing where a code appears to meet the core criteria and is likely to be of practical benefit to consumers and good traders. At the second stage, sponsors will need to provide evidence of delivery of the initial promises in the code and the OFT will approve and promote the code once it is satisfied that this has been demonstrated. An approved code of practice will contain a redress mechanism and a complaints procedure. It might also include sector-specific criteria.
40.Subsection (3) provides that the arrangements made by OFT for approving consumer codes must set out the criteria it will use to decide whether approval should be granted or removed.
41.Subsection (4)(a) provides that the arrangements under subsection (2) may set out in detail the type of codes that may be the subject of an application for approval.
42.Subsection (4)(b) allows the OFT to set out arrangements for the use of a logo to signify OFT approval of a consumer code.
43.Subsection (5) requires OFT to publish the arrangements to approve consumer codes in any way it considers appropriate.
44.Subsection (6) defines a consumer code of practice as any document that is intended to regulate the conduct of a person supplying goods or services to consumers and the purpose of which is to safeguard or promote the interests of consumers. This definition does not include codes of practice that only give non-binding guidance.