Independent Travel Expert, Frank Brehany, has continued concerns about the nature and continued viability of Consumer Rights in the post-Referendum environment. Despite assurances from politicians of all parties, making just the right noises about the preservation of Consumer Rights, we still have the overarching threat of the infamous Henry VIII clauses in the EU Exit Bill and Ministerial discretion.
His latest concern comes from the Travel Industry calling for a 6-month delay to the introduction of the new Package Travel Regulations. The Industry is calling foul on the government who should have transposed the new Package Travel Directive into UK Law by January 2018; the government only publicly introduced the new Regulations 10 weeks before they are due to come into force on 1 July 2018.
A grouping within the Industry claim that this is unfair and does not give them sufficient time to implement changes and change terms and conditions.
Frank does not agree. The Directive has taken a long time to debate and deliver and it has been clear since 2015 what legal obligations companies would be under; they have had ample time to prepare, they have engaged in a Consultation with government in the latter part of 2017; if amendments need to be made, they do not need the extra time being called for.
Equally, it is puzzling as to why the UK government has failed to transpose the Regulations into UK law, as it was required to do in January of this year.
The Travel Industry are now calling for a ‘face-to-face’ Consultation with the government, presumably to ‘fine-tune’ the Regulations, but such a Consultation would be valueless to Consumers, if they too did not have equal access to government Ministers and Civil Servants (See note below about Frank's concerns on Consumer input into the 2017 Consultation).
Already, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have declared that they will not enforce the Regulations on businesses for 3 months after they come into force, as long as they can demonstrate they are taking steps to comply with the law; if government is persuaded to extend the time for the Regulations to come into force, then it is likely that this new and important Consumer Law will not come into force until January 2019, only 3 months before Brexit-Day!
Frank Brehany states:
“Not content with securing a ‘major victory’ in the fight against so-called fraudulent claims, the Travel Industry now presses the advantage of their revolving door with government”
“Of equal concern is the government’s apparent inaction in implementing an important Consumer Law; what was so complicated; is government playing an extended game of wait and see - applying the ‘de minimis’ rule?
“As I have demonstrated for many years, Consumers have suffered with the vagaries of the so-called DIY Holiday Market, with many never achieving justice. The government has failed in its solemn obligations to implement European Law; some within the Travel Industry are crying foul and are seeking to delay Consumer Protections. As I have been saying since 2010, the government mantra appears to suggest “Industry Good; Consumer Bad”; isn't it time that government stepped up to the plate of responsibility and positively ensured the implementation of this Law on 1 July and to guarantee that its provisions will not suffer any watering down in 2019?”
(Note: As with previous UK Consultations, Frank has noted that other Consumer input has tended to concentrate on Consumer Financial Protection. Whilst this is important, he is concerned that this Consumer 'input' does not cut to the heart of the day-to-day Consumer detriment suffered within holiday contracts, which these new Regulations address. Frank's previous work addressed all Consumer detrimental experiences at European and UK levels)