Reading Time: 6 min
What is Consumer Law?
When you go on a shopping trip to purchase items or services from a business, it’s normal to expect a reasonable fair experience such as you’ll be treated well, the goods you pay for to be what you get, that the goods are fit for purpose and work complies with all trading standards regulations. However, sometimes some organisations or businesses may want to exploit your goodwill and money, hence the need for you (consumers) to be protected.
Consequently, consumer law is the body of laws that provides the basic rights a consumer has in his dealings with businesses. Consumer law is a group of laws that offers protection to the consumer against issues dealing with unfair practices for goods, services and digital content such as a fraudulent sale or mis-selling when they purchase a product or service. Players in the consumer markets have to abide by the rules and regulations of this directive. Businesses must ensure that any goods are fit for purpose and that work complies with all trading standards and regulations. If they fail in this duty and refuse to put things right, a consumer dispute can arise.
The Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015 is one of the most significant legislations governing this area.
Different Types of Consumer disputes
The CRA is far-reaching and covers almost every type of purchase of goods or services made by an individual from a business. Typical examples:
- Being sold faulty electrical goods
- Furniture that is substandard quality or not as described
- Non-delivery of goods bought online
- Defective new motor vehicles
- Poor quality work from tradesmen (builders, plumbers, electricians etc.)
- Service or product warranty disputes
- Negligent repairs or poor workmanship
- Refund problems with retailers, traders or sellers
Leading Firms in this Area
The following firms in the UK come recommended for their expertise in the area of family law:
- Clyde & Co
- Six Pump Court
- Henderson Chambers
- KTS Legal Solicitors & Advocates
- Andrew Jackson Solicitors
- Stevens & Bolton
- Scornik Gerstein
What does the Work Involve?
So imagine you saw an advertisement for a laptop that costs 2000 pounds that would give you a great experience and do a host of things like gaming without lagging. You go out and buy it. On getting the home you find that what was advertised is not what the product does – the experience you have is terrible. In such scenarios, the work of a consumer protection lawyer will involve supporting consumers’ rights to obtain products as they are advertised and services at fair prices. A consumer lawyer’s work is to protect buyers from dangerous items or unethical and unfair business practices and help consumers begin the process of making companies who have defaulted on the duty owed the consumers pay up or make amends. Consumer lawyers can also work for businesses and their work may involve helping the business customers stay satisfied.
Tasks of a Consumer Protection Lawyer
A Consumer protection lawyer’s duties will vary depending on who he or she is working for:
- Reviewing disputes and supporting documentation like receipts
- If an advertisement was false, a consumer lawyer can make further investigations to see if others have fallen into the business trap in the past
- Establish the prospects, risks and merits of a legal claim
- Provide clients with a detailed letter of advice with a suggested course of action
- If appropriate, draft a letter to the faulting business based on the advice provided
- If required, provide a cost estimate for any further legal or court action that clients may wish to pursue to get a remedy.
- May work with businesses to make sure that their products are sage
- Might publish articles on behalf of a business to educate that business’s consumers
As is usual with the practice of law in the UK, the pay of a consumer lawyer will be higher if he or she is working in the City than if he was outside the City. A newly qualified consumer lawyer at a top firm like CMS would get £120,000. But outside the City or even a small practice in the City, the same newly qualified solicitor may expect to earn around £20,000 to £40,000.
Trainee solicitors are better off in the City if money is a driving factor; at a firm like CMS you’d be making a cool £50,000 in their first year and £55,000 in their second year.
To become a top-notch consumer protection lawyer, you’ll need to develop a host of skills as this area crisscrosses through various practice areas. For example, a consumer lawyer may have to deal with real estate or aviation law. In light of this, the following skills will be quite useful:
- High intellectual ability
- Sound judgment
- Ability to research and soak up information
- Good drafting skills
- A genuine interest in helping people
- Resilience – you might be often going after big companies with an arsenal of resources so you need to be able to stay the course
- Empathy for the client’s case and perspectives.
- Great interpersonal skills
Work-Life Balance in Family Law
It does appear that consumer protection lawyers are quite lucky when it comes to this aspect. It seems that they enjoy the normal working hours conversant with law firms working in the City. That is a consumer lawyer may get into work by 9 am and be generally expected to leave somewhere around 7 or 8 pm at most – surely by law standards, this is one of the best times you can get working in the City. If you work outside the City, you even have a higher chance of leaving earlier to get some other things going in your life!
The Life of an Aspiring Consumer Protection Lawyer
As a trainee or pupil your daily tasks or duties may include:
- You assist senior members of your firm like newly qualified lawyers, the partner or head of consumer/retail
- Helping with existing cases
- Contributing your efforts to new cases
- Assisting with general file management
- Researching and attending meetings.
How Do you Become One?
The route of becoming a consumer lawyer depends on whether you want to practise as a solicitor or barrister.
If you want to be a solicitor, the traditional route is to get a law degree or a related degree, take the LPC – by 2032, the LPC will be completely phased out – and the SQE if you have a non-law degree. After the SQE you’ll need to get a TC at a law firm, preferably one with a consumer division. Look to high street firms for experience in this area.
If you want to be a barrister, the route is the same as above, except that, instead of taking the LPC you take the BPTC, instead of the SQE you take the GDL for those without a law degree. The work experience you need is a pupillage instead of a TC at a chambers good in this practice area.
Who Might be a Good Fit?
If you want to be intellectually stimulated then this is an area of practice that you should consider. Your intellect will be challenged in different ways because of the varied sectors you’ll deal with. Further, those who are encouraged by helping people should look at this area.
Developments in the Sector
New Consumer Protection Law Announced
Following the government’s 2021 Consultation Paper on potential new consumer protection reforms, the government in April 2022, announced significant reforms to consumer protection laws in the UK and responded to the consultation. The reforms are mostly in tandem with the position taken in the consultation paper. The reforms are not yet effective as no draft legislation has been published, nor has the necessary parliamentary approval been sought.
Regardless, the main consumer protections in the reform are the issues of fake reviews, subscription traps and enforcement. These reforms are exciting because they’ll stop businesses from facilitating fake reviews about their products or services. Secondly, there’ll be no more sneak attacks to entrap you into a subscription you don’t want as the law will enforce businesses to ensure that customers can exit a contract in a straightforward, cost-effective and timely way tell the consumer before their free trial expires and before their contract auto-renews.
In light of this, I’m off to go register for Netflix!
Charles is a writer, practising lawyer and personal trainer who loves learning and developing himself. He graduated from Middlesex University, London with eight first-class grades in the second and third years of his law degree, and received a postgraduate offer from Cambridge University. He loves strength training, boxing and encouraging people to succeed in their pursuits (legal ones)
Congrapps is the №1 Platform for Verified Successful Career Resources! We collected the actual Cover Letters & Interview Experiences of those who made it to the most competitive graduate and entry-level jobs in Banking, Finance, Consulting and Law in London.
We help graduates achieve their dreams by levelling the playing field and giving access to the same information to everyone!