User-friendly T&Cs: BIS Consultation Underway

March 7, 2016

Those of a cynical frame of mind will think that the move by the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) to seek views on ways to improve T&Cs is mere window-dressing. But there is real substance in the BIS proposals and they are well worth a look.

BIS states that it is seeking a better understanding of how T&Cs can be made more accessible for consumers. The consultation document, which can be accessed here, includes a number of proposals along with more general questions on how respondents approach T&Cs and what might work better for them. One major change that BIS are proposing involves the additional enforcement power to impose monetary penalties for breaches of the consumer protection legislation.

The BIS certainly deserves some credit for producing a relatively short and focused consultation. While the issues concerned are by no means confined to the online world, it is clear that issues about T&Cs in ecommerce are of concern to the BIS. If the power to impose what the BIS likes to call ‘civil fines’ is created, it is a good bet that an online retailer will be the first to pay the penalty.

The consultation runs until 25 April.

Laurence Eastham writes:

In a punchy foreword from Minister of State Nick Boles, he states that ‘my own experience is that on the rare occasions I have clicked on and opened “T&Cs”, I have found them to be very long, in small print and full of impenetrable jargon and legalise (sic)’. Which brought to mind my own main gripe about T&Cs: if you cannot afford a literate lawyer, at least get a proofreader.