The National Consumer Agency has published guidelines for businesses this morning to ensure that they are in compliance with legislation on unfair terms in consumer contracts.
Sean Murphy, the NCA's legal adviser, said the new terms were aimed primarily at traders who are hoping to promote good practice and make people aware that you do not have to accept terms and conditions that are unfavourable. "An unfair term is one that causes significant detriment to the consumer," Mr Murphy explains. He says an unfair term loads the contract against the consumer in the trader's favour- and pushes risk in the consumer's direction. Under the guidelines, the onus is shifting onto the business to ensure that the terms are fair but the consumer is encouraged to engage actively in the process too. "We're encouraging businesses to take a look at their standard form contracts. If you don't understand the terms, the likelihood is that the consumer won't either. Amend or get rid of them," Sean Murphy advises.
Mr Murphy also says that if a company has an onerous term that is disadvantageous to the consumer, it must be put up front and given prominence. He cited a number of examples in the waste management sector where the NCA took enforcement action in the last year. "We found a trader who had retained the right to enter someone's premises to collect bins. There were disproportionate penalties for someone who sought to change provider and there was Latin legal jargon in one particular contract." He also encouraged consumers and traders to familiarise themselves with the guidelines on the Consumer Association's website.
MORNING BRIEFS - With inflation falling and unemployment stubbornly high, the European Central Bank is expected to turn dovish today and is set to cut rates and adopt new programmes to direct credit to small businesses. There is also speculation that the ECB may put in place a controversial asset-buying programme like those deployed in the US and the UK.
*** There are currently 133 vacancies at the Central Bank according to figures provided by the Minister for Finance in response to a Dáil question from the Fianna Fáil finance spokesman, Michael McGrath. 50 offers have been made and 27 have been accepted by candidates, according to the Minister. The majority of the vacancies - 72 - are in the regulation area. The Central Bank has been hit by a wave of departures in recent times. Michael McGrath has expressed concern about the high turnover of staff at the Central bank and in NAMA.
*** The Irish services sector posted a 22nd consecutive month of growth in May. The increased activity was mainly accounted for by new orders and demand from customers here and abroad. The rate of job creation remained at a healthy level despite easing to its weakest level in over six months. The services sector covers businesses as diverse as the tourism industry to banking and finance and ICT.
*** The revenue generated by Premier League clubs broke the £3 billion mark in the recent 2013-14 season, according to figures from consultants, Deloitte. Revenues doubled in the past seven years and it is only four years since it passed the £2 billion mark. The battle between rival television companies was the main driver behind the increased revenues.