Submitting InstitutionUniversity of Hull
Unit of AssessmentLaw
Summary Impact TypeLegal
Research Subject Area(s)
Law and Legal Studies: Law
Summary of the impact
Research published in peer-reviewed journals/books and reports
commissioned by government departments have had significant impact on UK
government policy relating to the reform of domestic consumer law.
Impact can be seen in legislation adopted to transpose EU directives into
domestic law, as well as the development of reform proposals during the
current period (notably the Consumer Rights Bill [draft bill published on
12 June 2013]). The research was also used to give evidence to a House of
Lords Select Committee and to assist the Law Commission with several
The ultimate non-academic beneficiaries are UK consumers, because a
clearer and streamlined set of legal rules will make it easier for them to
identify their rights and encourage greater compliance by business. Other
non-academic beneficiaries are staff from Consumer Direct and the Citizens
Advice Bureau who advise on consumer law, and the UK government itself.
The research underpinning the impact in this case-study comprises 2
externally-funded research reports, a journal article and 2 book chapters
(see Section 3). Both reports were commissioned by the relevant government
department to help shape policy and respond to legislative developments at
the European level.
The first report (2) was written by Professor Christian Twigg-Flesner
(Lecturer 2004-2005; Senior Lecturer 2005-2007; Reader 2007-2010;
Professor 2010 to present) (who was also the project co-ordinator), with
Deborah Parry (Senior Lecturer 1990-2005; now Senior Fellow), Geraint
Howells and Annette Nordhausen (see Section 4) in Spring 2005 (finalised
in May 2005). Hull-based staff contributed about 60% of the overall work.
The report was commissioned to explore the actual impact of the EU Unfair
Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD), once adopted, on domestic consumer
law. The DTI requested information about what needed to be done in order
to implement the Directive into domestic law, and also the scope for
further simplification of domestic consumer law. The report considered the
case for both repealing existing legislation and modifying this to bring
it into line with the UCPD (see also (5) for a critical discussion). It
concluded that, whilst it was possible to amend existing legislation to
bring it into compliance, there was considerable scope for simplification
of the regulatory regime in respect of consumer transactions.
The second report (1) was directed by Professors Geraint Howells
(University of Manchester) and Professor Twigg-Flesner, with Rick Canavan
(Lecturer 2008 to present), Deborah Parry (see above), Andrew Bell,
Annette Nordhausen Scholes and Chris Willett (see Section 4), and was
produced during summer/autumn 2010 and published in November 2010. This
research was commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and
Skills (BIS) on the question of consolidation and simplification of the
law relating to the sale and supply of goods. The report presented the
case for consolidation of the currently fragmented law, simplification of
terminology, and improved regulation of service quality.
Elements of the work from the second report were published as part of an
analytical piece ((5), written with Deborah Parry).
The findings of both reports were accepted by BIS (and its predecessors).
Taken together, the underpinning research identifies shortcomings with
existing domestic consumer law and suggests how this could be alleviated,
whether in response to specific developments at the European level, or by
preparing domestic legislation.
In addition, Professor Twigg-Flesner has researched into the impact of
proposed new EU legislation and its potential impact on UK consumer law
((3) and (4)), in which he argued that the proposed Consumer Rights
Directive would be detrimental to consumers. The key findings of these
outputs formed the basis for his giving evidence to a House of Lords
Select Committee Inquiry into the proposed Directive.
References to the research
1. Consolidation and Simplification of UK Consumer Law (prepared
for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), November 2010
2. An Analysis of the Application and Scope of the Unfair Commercial
Practices Directive — (prepared for the Department of Trade and
Industry (DTI)), May 2005 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.bis.gov.uk/files/file32095.pdf
Contract value £25,944.94.
3. "The proposed Consumer Rights Directive — less haste, more thought?"
(2009) 6 European Review of Contract Law 368-391 (with Daniel
Metcalfe, then Research Assistant at Hull providing 35% input and listed
4. "Fit for purpose? The proposals on sales" in G. Howells and R. Schulze
(eds.) Modernising and Harmonising Consumer Contract Law. (Munich:
5. "The Challenges Posed by the Implementation of the Directive into
Domestic Law — a UK Perspective"; in S.Weatherill and U.Bernitz (eds.), The
Regulation of Unfair Commercial Practices under EC Directive 2005/29:
New Rules and New Techniques (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2007)
Details of the impact
Impact from this body of research can be divided into primary and
Primary impact can be identified particularly in respect of the
influence of the research reports prepared for the DTI and BIS.
The findings of the 2005 report (2) were utilised in preparing the
Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, which implement
the UCPD into domestic law. The Regulations repealed around 30 existing
pieces of consumer law and thereby greatly simplified this area of
legislation. The partial Regulatory Impact Assessment published with the
consultation on the Regulations (URN 06/2122) contains a list of measures
to be repealed, and this was carried through into the regulations
(Schedules 2 and 4 to the 2008 Regulation contain a list of legislation
that was amended or repealed, which is based on the measures indentified
in the 2005 report). This list reflects the recommendations made in the
report to simplify the overall regulatory landscape (having dismissed the
alternative of amending many measures to comply with the requirements of
Between 2006 and 2010, Professor Twigg-Flesner (together with Deborah
Parry and Rick Canavan in some instances) were involved in a number of
meetings at the DTI/BIS to discuss the potential for further-reaching
reform of consumer law, building on the research undertaken in 2005. These
discussions related, in particular, to the need to consolidate and
simplify the law relating to the sale and supply of goods. As a result of
the discussions, in 2010 BIS commissioned research (1), and the resulting
report has influenced work (evidenced by references in consultation
documents and Explanatory Notes) leading towards the introduction of the
Consumer Rights Bill (draft bill published on 12 June 2013), which will
consolidate and simplify many of the provisions of the law relating to the
sale and supply of goods in one Act. Since the report was finalised,
Professor Twigg-Flesner has been involved in further meetings with
officials at BIS about the potential scope for reform, based on the
Secondary impact relates to the continuing involvement of
Professor Twigg-Flesner in advising BIS and the Law Commission on a number
of consumer law reform projects during the review period. For example, the
research on the UCPD (especially in (2)) formed the basis for discussions
about the Law Commission's advice on a private right of redress (November
2008) and further pre-consultation discussions on consumer redress for
misleading and aggressive practices.
Based on published research (3) and (4), Professor Twigg-Flesner was
invited by House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union
(Sub-Committee G) to give written and oral evidence for its enquiry into
the proposed Consumer Rights Directive. The written memorandum (published
in HL Paper 126-II, Evidence for 18th report, 2008-09 session)
was based on research (4) and (5), and oral evidence given on 26 March
1999 (transcript in HL Paper 126-II, pp.4-18). His evidence was referred
to repeatedly in the final report (see Section 5) and the broad
conclusions of the report reflect the evidence given.
Underpinning report (1) was a collaboration with Geraint Howells
(University of Manchester) (who jointly edited the report with Professor
Twigg-Flesner), Andrew Bell and Annette Nordhausen Scholes (both
Manchester), and Chris Willett (De Montfort University).
Underpinning report (2) was a collaboration with Geraint Howells (then
Lancaster University) and Annette Nordhausen (then University of
Sources to corroborate the impact
Team manager, Commercial and Corporate Law, Law Commission (and see also
the Law Commission's final report recommending the introduction of new
legislation published March 2012, Law Commission Report 332, fns.15 and
53, referring to the 2005 report).
The 2010 report was cited repeatedly in the BIS public consultation, Enhancing
Consumer Confidence by Clarifying Consumer Law (July 2012) — see
paras.4.19, 5.3, 5.65, 5.164 and 5.171). The draft Consumer Rights Bill
was published on 12 June 2013. The Explanatory notes published with the
Bill repeatedly refer to the 2010 report as being part of the basis on
which the Bill was drafted (at paras.17, 46-7, and 184-5).
Evidence given to House of Lords Select Committee was cited in the main
report (EU Consumer Rights Directive: getting it right HL Paper
126-I (2008/9 session)) at paras.25, 29, 34, 60, 62, 78, 114, 121, 144,
148, 149, 165, 168, 169, 180, 184 and 186