Regulators don’t get a great Press and the Office of Fair Trading has had its fair share of brickbats down the years. The OFT’s tripartite role in enforcing competition law, enforcing consumer protection legislation and monitoring and licensing consumer credit was, in anyone’s eyes, quite a remit. Personally, over more years than I care to remember I found the OFT staff I dealt with to be extremely helpful. Similarly, their body of published guidance on many complex matters has proved very useful.
Certainly I, for one, did not regard the OFT as ‘broke’, or in drastic need of being ‘fixed’. However, it was closed on 31 March. So who should we all now be looking to for guidance and regulation? Take a deep breath…
- Since April 2012, the Citizens Advice consumer service has assumed the old OFT Consumer Direct service role of advising consumers and sharing the information gleaned with various UK enforcement authorities.
- In April 2013, Trading Standards took on powers to enforce consumer protection law at a national level. They are likely to be busy with new consumer legislation taking effect in June this year being followed by a new Act in the Autumn or Winter consolidating and extending consumer protection law.
- OFT responsibility for licensing and enforcement of the consumer credit regime moved to the Financial Conduct Authority in April 2014
- Meanwhile, the new (in 2013) Competition and Markets Authority has taken on not only the work of the old Competition Commission, but also certain competition and consumer functions of the OFT.
Of course, we should give all these regulatory authorities a fair trial but am I alone in wondering where all that stuff about reducing red tape got to?