CTSI is urging the Government to delay the proposed Retained EU Law Bill because of serious concerns that vital protections for consumers and businesses could be lost.
The Institute has also reaffirmed that legislative change on this scale “cannot and should not be rushed”.
The Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform Bill) would involve the ‘sunsetting’ of retained EU law by the end of next year. This would cover more than 2,400 pieces of legislation across 21 Government departments and could mean the rewriting of many of domestic laws.
John Herriman, Chief Executive of CTSI, said: “So much of the work that Trading Standards does is underpinned by what is currently retained EU Law. There are always opportunities to modernise, innovate and drive reform which we naturally embrace, especially now the UK has left the EU.
“However, we do have a number of significant concerns. The timetable is very tight for such a mammoth rewrite of much legislation underpinning the work of Trading Standards. As we understand it, even if there is an opportunity to extend the legislative timetable by 2026, this is a huge catalogue of legislation which will need to be considered, the scale of which has not been seen for decades.”
A significant amount of Trading Standards work is based on EU retained legislation, including Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations – which provide a cornerstone of protections to consumers from misleading claims, scams and rogue traders. Retained EU legislation is also the basis for food safety laws, including requirements to label allergens and restrictions on the use of decontaminants on meat; weights and measures regulations; animal health; product safety; intellectual property; and business protection from misleading marketing.
“The Government must ensure that vital consumer protections are not lost inadvertently through a desire to rush things through,” said Herriman. “This is particularly pertinent right now, given consumers are facing record levels of detriment and that is set to get worse as our economic challenges continue. Parliament must also have the right input to these decisions.
“At a time when businesses need as much certainty as possible, the sooner the Government can provide this, the better. While regulatory reform can provide the UK with an opportunity to do things differently, this might not always be advantageous, particularly if regulatory divergence makes it more difficult for our businesses to compete or enter markets.
“The logical response would be to ensure that the sunset deadline of December 2023 is simply extended to December 2026. This would ensure critical protections remain in place to ensure consumer confidence and that businesses have the necessary certainty – both of which will be critical factors in the helping to ensure the UK’s economic recovery.”