Consumer Credit Act must be modernised urgently, says trade body

Out-Law News | 13 Dec 2019 | 10:50 am | 1 min. read

The next UK government must act urgently to bring consumer credit laws up to date, a trade body has said.

The Finance and Leasing Association (FLA) said that lenders were prevented by the Consumer Credit Act (CCA) from stepping in to help customers in financial difficulty quickly enough, while requiring them to send "old fashioned and severely worded letters".

The FLA also said that the 45-year-old legislation had not kept up with innovation in the motor finance sector, pointing out that it is "unnecessarily complex" to finance an electric vehicle and its charging point in the same transaction. It is also calling for better, more streamlined and consistent information about potential lending to be made available for small businesses, alongside links to local 'growth hubs'.

Lauren McCarthy

Associate

Many provisions of the Consumer Credit Act are out of touch with the realities of online commerce.

Stephen Haddrill, director general of the FLA, said: "Consumers need to be given a credible, firm promise of legislation early in the new parliament; legislation that will deliver protections appropriate for the 21st century".

"Although there is no shortage of online business advice, it's less clear whether a small business owner could find, in one sitting, all of the information needed to decide on the appropriate finance for their circumstances. Remedying this would be a great step to improving UK productivity," he said.

Financial regulation expert Lauren McCarthy of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "Industry support for reform in the consumer credit space remains strong".

"Many provisions of the CCA are out of touch with the realities of online commerce. Lenders operate in an increasingly digital world, but are often held back from delivering tech-based solutions to customers by provisions in the CCA, which focus on old-fashioned processes. Further, as the FLA has pointed out, the CCA hasn't kept up with developments in finance, particularly those relating to the growing area of green finance," she said.

"We look forward to seeing the government's response to the FLA's proposals," she said.

Earlier this year, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) ruled out significant reform of the CCA in a report to the UK Treasury. The FCA, which became responsible for the regulation of UK consumer credit in April 2014, was required to report to the government on whether the consumer protections set out in the CCA were effective, or whether they should be replaced by principles-based FCA rules.