Companies that hide charges in small print should be taken to court, says Law Commission
Companies which tuck away hidden charges in the small print should face being taken to court, the Law Commission has recommended.
In a report published today on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts, it says that British courts should be empowered to examine the fairness of hidden costs from the likes of budget airlines, estate agents and gyms.
David Hertzell, Law Commissioner for England and Wales, said: "The current law is baffling - so much so that consumers and regulators are reluctant to challenge unfair charges.
"Both traders and consumers need clearer law. If a price is transparent and prominent, the courts should not interfere - but other charges need to be fair."
With millions of people now turning to price comparison sites before buying, traders are being forced to advertise low headline rates to attract consumers in, before hitting them with various other charges to ensure they make a decent profit.
The Law Commission said the problem with the small print is not "just about font size" - it also includes poor layout, densely phrased paragraphs and legal jargon.
Another recommendation in the report is for courts to have more powers to remove legal jargon from computer software contracts.
The end user licence agreements - designed to limit the product's use - should be expressed in "plain, intelligible language".
Professor Hector MacQueen, Scottish Law Commissioner, which jointly published the report, said: "The software industry has argued that consumer legislation does not apply to some end user licence agreements as they are 'licences' rather than 'contracts'. Our recommendations close this supposed loophole.”
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...