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Updated consumer law guidance for higher education providers welcomed

Updated guidance for higher education (HE) providers announced by the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) will help the sector ensure that their practices are compliant, according to one legal expert.

Earlier this month the CMA said it was renewing consumer law advice for HE providers which had originally been published in March 2015. It said revisions would update the guidance’s references to consumer law and to stakeholders but added that much of the original advice will remain unchanged.

Rami Labib of Pinsent Masons said: “It is positive that the CMA’s 2015 guidance is being updated to ensure it addresses the most relevant consumer law related issues arising in the sector and for the CMA to, via the guidance, update the sector on what it considers best practice. The 2015 guidance has long been used as the yardstick for HE providers to measure their compliance against, but over the course of time, all guidance can become outdated and require a refresh.”

Labib Rami

Rami Labib


New guidance will inevitably help refocus the minds of higher education providers on their duties and ensure their practices are compliant

The CMA told HE providers to follow the current advice for complying with consumer protection law until it publishes the updated version. It added that it was not issuing a public request for information, or engaging in a public consultation, because of the limited scope of the planned update. The updated advice will be published in Spring 2023.

Labib said: “While there have not been significant changes in law or legal precedent, new guidance will inevitably help refocus the minds of HE providers on their duties and ensure their practices are compliant. It is, however, a touch disappointing that the CMA is not consulting the sector on what the revised guidance should include as that would have offered HE providers the opportunity to have the CMA address particular areas of concern, or where they felt particular guidance was required.”

Angelique Bret of Pinsent Masons said: “The CMA is increasingly focused on consumer law enforcement and, in light of this, is taking steps to update existing and formulate new consumer law guidance in areas where UK consumers are most likely to be impacted. Notably, anticipated reforms to consumer protection legislation will significantly strengthen the CMA’s enforcement powers and align them more closely with the CMA’s powers under competition law.”

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