The Consumers' Association has welcomed proposals by the European Commission to introduce new fair trading laws, but warned that future regulations must not undermine existing UK consumer protection.
The Unfair Commercial Practices Directive is aimed at stimulating cross-border commerce and will help protect consumers buying over the internet.
It will cover misleading advertising, comparative advertising and aggressive practices, with the aim of cracking down on scams and online fraud, offering consumers further protection from unscrupulous traders.
If passed, the directive would also increase the powers of trading standards officers to ensure that consumers are protected.
But the directive forms part of wider reforms of European consumer protection iniatives, and the Consumers' Association has warned that the new proposals need close scrutiny to ensure that existing UK protection is not undermined.
Any new legislation must be tough enough to deal with persistent problems, but the current proposals leave much to be desired, according to the Consumers' Association.
Stephen Crampton, European advisor to the Consumers' Association, said in a statement: "Too often crooks are quick to find loopholes in the law.
"These proposals should be welcomed by the vast majority of businesses as they will help protect them from unfair competition from those businesses which cheat through misleading or intimidating consumers.
"However, although these proposals are a step in the right direction, it is disappointing that the new laws will not force rogue traders to compensate their victims. Individual consumers would still have to make claims against the company or trader.
"Simply stopping rogue traders is not enough. Where abuses occur, those found guilty must be made to pay compensation."
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