Westminster Business Forum

Consumer protection in the UK - Smart Data, modernising consumer markets and the changing roles of regulators

Morning, Monday, 9th December 2019

Central London


This seminar will be a timely opportunity to consider the future of consumer protection, in the context of the consumer white paper and proposed wide-ranging changes for the scope and powers of key regulators.

The seminar is scheduled to follow the expected publication of the white paper on modernising consumer markets. Delegates will issues for implementation, including any new duties on Local Trading Standards Officers and potential changes required to terms and conditions.

They will also look at the extent to which proposed changes achieve the aims laid out in the green paper that consumers benefit from new technology and new business models, and that they always have effective redress. This will include practical steps on how to make alternative dispute resolution more accessible and simpler for consumers.

Delegates will assess how well-equipped regulators are to address modern consumer issues, including regulating online content. It follows recent proposals for the Competition and Markets Authority to have greater information-gathering and enforcement powers, as well as a statutory duty to prioritise consumers in their work.

This seminar also follows the conclusions of the Public Account Committee report on consumer protection.

Delegates will consider the recommendations and issues raised by the committee including concerns that the variation in approach taken by different regulators is leading to disparity in consumer experience.  We expect discussion on how regulators can work together to improve protection for consumers, particularly those in vulnerable situations.

Delegates will also look at the work of the recently established Consumer Forum, announced in the Government’s Modernising Consumer Markets green paper. They will consider options for better co-ordinating government and regulator action, as well as best practice for knowledge and data sharing.

As government considers feedback to its open consultation on the Smart Data Review proposals, the agenda will look at the potential of what has been proposed, in particular the cross-sectoral Smart Data Function and how it can develop and share expertise and effectively ensure initiatives work in the interest of consumers.

This also follows the green paper emphasis on realising data portability. Attendees will look at how to ensure it is implemented in a way which supports consumers to get better deals in regulated markets, and will consider what can be learnt from the approach of Open Banking.

The agenda looks at how to best support and engage vulnerable consumers.

It takes place in light of a recent NAO report which highlighted ‘significant difficulties’ facing vulnerable consumers in regulated markets, and called for regulators to be more specific and targeted in setting out what overall outcomes they want to achieve for consumers, and therefore what information they need to effectively evaluate their performance.

There will be discussion of the steps that the regulators and government are taking to address this, including the newly proposed Vulnerable Consumer Challenge.

Delegates will also assess the action that has been taken to tackle the use of loyalty penalties, following the super-complaint launched by Citizens Advice, and in the context of the recent government support for ‘bolder’ use of existing powers, and commitment to consider options for strengthening the legal framework to tackle subscription traps.

Keynote Speakers

Jason Freeman

Director, Consumer Law, Competition and Markets Authority

Charles Nancarrow

Director, Trade and Regulation, NAO

Matthew Vickers

Chief Executive Officer and Chief Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services

Keynote Speakers

Haris Irshad

Deputy Director, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Jason Freeman

Director, Consumer Law, Competition and Markets Authority

Charles Nancarrow

Director, Trade and Regulation, NAO

Matthew Vickers

Chief Executive Officer and Chief Ombudsman, Ombudsman Services


Yvonne Fovargue MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Consumer Protection

John Howell MP

Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Alternative Dispute Resolution


Jane Rumble

Director of Consumer Policy, Ofcom

Sarah Cox

Chief Operating Officer, Ofgem

David Stallibrass

Senior Adviser, Fingleton

Lisa Ball

Legal Director, Customer Experience, BT Group

Philip James

Partner, Sheridans

Matthew Upton

Director of Policy, Consumer and Public Services, Citizens Advice

Ian Thompson

Senior Consultant, Economic Insight

Sue Davies

Strategic Policy Adviser, Which?