21 March, 2017
In light of the Spring Budget delivered earlier this month, education providers of all types should now be aware of the potential implications this announcements might have for them and particularly their consumer facing contracts.
Philip Hammond said in his Budget speech: "We will shortly bring forward a Green Paper on protecting the interests of consumers. But ahead of the Green Paper, we will take the first steps to protect consumers from unexpected fees or unfair clauses, to simplify terms and conditions, and to give consumer bodies greater enforcement powers."
One of the key proposals of the Budget is making terms and conditions in consumer contracts both simpler and clearer. Consumers are deemed as being those who receive goods or services for purposes other than those relating to trade and include students and their parents for example. These changes could therefore apply to a multitude of different circumstances from student agreements for Higher Education bodies all the way down to selling uniform in a school shop - both online and otherwise.
The Budget also intends to prevent consumers from unexpected charges when subscriptions are renewed or when a free trial comes to an end. This may be relevant for schools that sell or hire out IT equipment to students for example, or any instances where schools provide subscription based extra-curricular activities.
The government has consistently made clear its intent to support civil fining for breaches of consumer protection laws, where companies may be found of misleading or mistreating their consumers and bodies like Trading Standards have been granted widened powers in the past few years.
Now is an ideal opportunity for education providers to ensure that all of its terms and conditions are up to date and in the right form - including those in any digital contracts. For further advice and assistance on terms and conditions, or any other commercial and contract law matters, please feel free to contact John Pickervance via email or on 0333 207 1134.