Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007

Document Number:2007 CHAPTER 17
 
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An Act to make provision for the establishment of the National Consumer Council and its functions; to make provision for the abolition of other consumer bodies; to make provision about the handling of consumer complaints by certain providers; to make provision requiring certain providers to be members of redress schemes in respect of consumer complaints; to amend the Estate Agents Act 1979; to make provision about the cancellation of certain contracts concluded away from business premises; and for connected purposes.

[19 th July 2007]

Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—

Part 1 The National Consumer Council

The National Consumer Council and territorial committees

1 Establishment of the National Consumer Council and its territorial committees

(1) There is to be a body corporate called the National Consumer Council or, in Welsh, Cyngor Defnyddwyr Cenedlaethol (“the Council”).

(2) The Council must establish and maintain—

(a) a committee for Scotland to be known as the Scottish Consumer Council;

(b) a committee for Wales to be known as the Welsh Consumer Council or, in Welsh, Cyngor Defnyddwyr Cymru;

(c) a committee for Northern Ireland to be known as the Northern Ireland Postal Services Committee.

(3) In this Part references to a “territorial committee” are to a committee established under subsection (2).

(4) Schedule 1 is about the Council and its territorial committees.

2 The territorial committees

(1) The territorial committees may exercise, on behalf of the Council, the following functions—

(a) in the case of the Scottish Consumer Council, the Council’s functions under sections 8 to 17 , 19 and 21 to 26 , so far as they are exercisable in relation to Scotland;

(b) in the case of the Welsh Consumer Council, the Council’s functions under those sections, so far as they are exercisable in relation to Wales;

(c) in the case of the Northern Ireland Postal Services Committee—

(i) the Council’s functions under sections 8 to 12 , 15 to 17 , 19 , 21 and 23 to 26 so far as they are exercisable in relation to Northern Ireland, and

(ii) the Council’s functions under section 22 so far as they are exercisable in relation to consumer matters which relate to relevant postal services in relation to Northern Ireland.

(2) For the purpose of facilitating or improving co-ordination in relation to the carrying out of its functions, the Council may from time to time—

(a) impose restrictions or conditions on the exercise by a territorial committee of a function by virtue of subsection (1);

(b) give a territorial committee general or specific directions relating to the exercise of a function by virtue of that subsection.

(3) Nothing in subsection (1) prevents the Council from exercising any of its functions referred to in that subsection.

(4) A territorial committee also has the following purposes—

(a) the provision of advice and information to the Council about consumer matters affecting the area for which the committee is established,

(b) the provision of advice to the Council about the exercise of the Council’s functions in so far as they affect that area, and

(c) such other purposes as the Council may determine (including the exercise of any functions delegated to the committee under paragraph 23 of Schedule 1).

“Consumer”, “consumer matters” and “designated consumers”

3“Consumer” and “consumer matters”

(1) In this Part “consumer” and “consumer matters” have the meaning given by this section.

(2)“Consumer” means—

(a) a person who purchases, uses or receives, in Great Britain, goods or services which are supplied in the course of a business carried on by the person supplying or seeking to supply them, or

(b) a person who purchases, uses or receives relevant postal services in Northern Ireland.

(3)“Consumer” includes both an existing consumer and a future consumer.

(4) For the purposes of subsection (2)—

(a) a person who uses services includes, in relation to relevant postal services, an addressee;

(b)“goods” includes land or an interest in land;

(c)“business” includes a profession and the activities of any government department, local or public authority or other public body.

(5)“Consumer matters” means—

(a) the interests of consumers, and

(b) any matter connected with those interests.

4“Designated consumers”

(1) In this Part “designated consumers” means—

(a) consumers in relation to gas conveyed through pipes or electricity conveyed by distribution systems or transmission systems, and

(b) consumers in relation to relevant postal services.

(2) The Secretary of State may, by order, amend subsection (1) so as—

(a) to make any description of consumers within subsection (3) “designated consumers” for the purposes of this Part;

(b) to provide for any description of consumers to cease to be “designated consumers” for those purposes.

(3) The consumers within this subsection are consumers in England and Wales in relation to services provided by a water undertaker, a sewerage undertaker or a licensed water supplier, in its capacity as such.

(4) Before making an order under subsection (2) , the Secretary of State must consult—

(a) the Council,

(b) in the case of a relevant order, the Scottish Ministers,

(c) the Welsh Ministers, and

(d) such other persons as the Secretary of State considers appropriate.

(5) For this purpose a “relevant order” is an order which relates to any description of—

(a) consumers in relation to gas conveyed through pipes or electricity conveyed by distribution systems or transmission systems, or

(b) consumers in relation to relevant postal services.

Determining priorities

5 Forward work programmes

(1) The Council must before each financial year publish a document (the “forward work programme”) containing—

(a) a statement of any priorities of the Council for the year in relation to designated consumers generally or any description of designated consumers;

(b) a general description of the main activities (including any projects) which it plans to undertake during the year in relation to designated consumers generally or any description of designated consumers;

(c) a statement of any other priorities of the Council for the year;

(d) a general description of any other projects which it plans to undertake during the year (other than those comprising routine activities in the exercise of its functions).

(2) The description of a project under subsection (1)(b) or (d) must include the objectives of the project.

(3) The forward work programme for any year must also include—

(a) an estimate of the overall expenditure which the Council expects to incur during the year in the exercise of its functions, and

(b) an estimate of the expenditure (if any) which the Council expects to incur during the year in the exercise of its functions in relation to designated consumers.

(4) An estimate under subsection (3)(b) must identify the expenditure (if any) which the Council expects to incur in the exercise of its functions in relation to each of the following—

(a) consumers in relation to gas conveyed through pipes or electricity conveyed by distribution systems or transmission systems;

(b) consumers in relation to relevant postal services;

(c) consumers who are designated consumers by virtue of an order under section 4(2)(a).

(5) Before publishing the forward work programme for any year, the Council must publish a notice—

(a) containing a draft of the forward work programme, and

(b) specifying the period within which representations about the proposals contained in it may be made,

and must consider any representations which are duly made and not withdrawn.

(6) The notice under subsection (5) must be published by the Council in such manner as it considers appropriate for the purpose of bringing the matters contained in the notice to the attention of persons likely to have an interest in them.

(7) The Council must send a copy of any notice given by it under subsection (5) to—

(a) the Secretary of State,

(b) the Scottish Ministers,

(c) the Welsh Ministers,

(d) the Office of Fair Trading, and

(e) any regulatory body which the Council considers might have an interest in the content of the notice.

6 General provision about functions

(1) In exercising its functions the Council must comply with the requirements of this section.

(2) The Council must have regard to the forward work programme published under section 5.

(3) The Council must have regard to the interests of consumers in different areas.

(4) The Council must have regard to the interests of consumers that are one or more of the following—

(a) disabled or chronically sick individuals;

(b) individuals of pensionable age;

(c) individuals with low incomes;

(d) individuals residing in rural areas.

(5) But nothing in subsection (4) is to be taken as implying that regard may not be had to the interests of other descriptions of consumers.

(6) The Council must have regard to the need to use its resources in the most efficient and economic way.

(7) In discharging the duty imposed by subsection (6) , the Council must take account of the existence of any other public bodies with the same functions as, or similar functions to, those of the Council and the activities carried on by such bodies.

(8) The Council must exercise its functions in the manner which it considers is best calculated to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

(9) Subject to section 13 (investigation of complaints relating to disconnection of gas or electricity) , nothing in this Part imposes on the Council a duty to exercise any of its functions on behalf of or at the request of a particular consumer.

(10) A person is of pensionable age for the purposes of this section if—

(a) the person has attained pensionable age (within the meaning given by the rules in paragraph 1 of Schedule 4 to the Pensions Act 1995 (c...

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