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Certain areas of law, employment law being a prime example, are relatively fast moving with changes coming about on a regular basis.  In comparison, commercial law is much slower moving with changes tending to be minor with significant changes coming about on a far more infrequent basis. Notwithstanding that, set out below is a summary of some of the key changes expected in the commercial law arena in 2015.

Consumer Law

The expected introduction of the Consumer Rights Bill is perhaps the biggest anticipated change heading our way in 2015. If adopted this will consolidate and reform the current areas of consumer:

  • Consumer remedies for defective goods, services and, for the first time, digital content.
  • Unfair terms in consumer contracts and consumer notices.
  • Enhanced consumer remedies which can be imposed by public enforcement agencies.
  • Enforcement powers to public enforcement agencies across more than 60 separate pieces of consumer legislation.
  • A collective redress in favour of groups of consumers for anti-competitive behaviour.

If you are a business trading in a business to consumer environment then this could have a substantial impact on your current terms of business and the procedures you need to follow with regard to returns and faulty products and it is well worth keeping an eye out as and when things change with the introduction of the Consumer Rights Bill.

Data Protection

Progress is expected to be made towards the on-going overhaul in Data Protection legislation European wide, however, this has been an on-going progress for a number of years no legislation is expected to be put in place until at least 2016. This when it arrives will overhaul the current Data Protection regime with the headline proposal being the introduction of a “right to be forgotten” where individuals will be able to request that all personal data relating to them is deleted by a data controller and that there is no further dissemination of their data.

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill

This is the principal vehicle for commercial initiatives in the government’s legislative programme for the current Parliamentary session. As the name suggests, it includes a variety of measures aimed at supporting small businesses, encouraging enterprise, and implementing fairer employment practices. Some of the proposals include facilitating credit and improving payment practices between small businesses and their customers. The Bill also aims to improve small firms’ access to public procurement contracts. The Bill may receive Royal Assent during the current Parliamentary session.

Copyright

This year should see legislation introducing a 3 year transitional period where the copyright in artistic works (where more than 50 have been produced) reduced from the current period of the life of the creator plus 70 years to a period of 25 years from the first marketing of the artistic work concerned.

Passing off

2015 should see further development of the legislation in relation to “copycat packaging” which will give the wronged party a right to obtain a civil injunction against the party producing the “copycat packaging”.

Intellectual Property Rights

This year should see a government response to the Law Commission report on reforming the current law on making groundless threats in respect of the alleged infringement of intellectual property rights.

Social Media

No doubt 2015 will see another flurry of developments arising from the rapidly developing area of social media law. A new offence of “disclosing private sexual photographs or films with intent to cause distress” (commonly called “revenge pornography”) will be introduced with a potential prison sentence of 2 years and the Crown Prosecution Service has already published it guidance on prosecuting such matters. In addition the time limit for bringing a prosecution for sending grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing messages via electronic communication is being extended from 6 months to 3 years.

We will keep you updated via our blog as and when these developments happen. In the meantime, should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact Christian Mancier or any other member of the corporate/commercial team on 0161 930 5151