During the Brexit referendum an argument put forward by the Leave campaign for a swift exit was the volume of regulations the European Union enforce on UK. Brussels were often blamed for imposing a confusing amount of rules, red tape and bureaucracy on everything from vehicle emissions to the shape of bananas.
But with all this 'red tape' now set to be eliminated, what consumer rights and protections may be effected when they go?
How will consumer laws be affected by Brexit?
Whilst most of our consumer rights do relate to EU directives, many are actually documented and protected within specific UK law. As such a lot of EU derived consumer law should survive any Brexit negotiations.
UK legislation will need to be amended as part of the Brexit process; but it's doubtful that major acts like the Consumer Rights Act are going to be scrapped and replaced wholesale. Not least as the time needed to debate and amend major laws probably won't be available in a Brexit Article 50 timeframe.
Some consumer services have been affected by EU regulation more than others, specifically flights operators and mobile telecom companies. The EU has pushed through regulation for clear compensation on delayed flights and drastically reduced mobile roaming charges within their borders. Once the UK is outside of the EU airlines and mobile carriers may have other ideas on how they tackle these.
Single market access, single set of rules?
One of the few things that most political parties agree on is that they want the UK to have some kind of trade access to the single market or at least the customs union. Without this access or a deal, trade would fall under default World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules which would impose tariffs of up to 40% on certain products, and be classed as by most as a 'Hard Brexit'.
There are also other EU arrangements the UK benefits from such as the Open Skies Agreement which opened Heathrow airport to full competition and dramatically cut airfares across the EU and to the US. Many agreements like these will need replacing or negotiating into to avoid the economy being adversely effected.
If a deal is reached to trade openly with the EU it will almost certainly mean us having to stick to most of the EU's regulations on the sale of goods and services.
Therefore any UK company who wants to do business with customers in the EU would need comply with EU product standards and regulations. If the UK did decided to substantially change regulations around safety standards, dealing with defective goods, product recalls etc. then UK businesses could be faced with having to complying with two sets of regulations.
Whatever happens with the Brexit process, confusion for consumers and the 'red tape' for businesses may not be going away.
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