Fake review ban ‘will help deliver fairness’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Legislation targets: the bills has three areas of focus (image: Getty/Suchat longthara)
Legislation targets: the bills has three areas of focus (image: Getty/Suchat longthara)

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Trade body UKHospitality (UKH) has welcomed draft legislation on fake reviews as it said they do “irreparable damage to businesses”.

The bill has been introduced to help give the Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) more powers to tackle unfair practices.

The Government first announced its plans to make it “clearly illegal” to pay someone to write or host a fake review in April last year​.

The Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill aims to promote economic growth among online and high street businesses.

It focuses on three areas – consumer protection, which will empower the CMA to decide when consumer law has been broken rather than having to take each case to court.

The bill will also allow the watchdog to find businesses that break the law up to 10% of their global turnover.

Focus areas

The second focus is digital markets. It will look to establish a new, targeted regime overseen by the Digital Markets Unit in the CMA, that will use a proportionate approach to hold digital firms accountable for their actions.

The third area is competition meaning the CMA should be able to conduct faster and more flexible competition investigations. Some changes will allow it to continue to protect and promote open and free markets.

CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell said: “We welcome this flagship bill, which provides the CMA with the new powers to do even more to protect people, businesses and support the economy.

“This has the potential to be a watershed moment in the way we protect consumers in the UK and the way we ensure digital markets work for the UK economy, supporting economic growth, investment and innovation.

“People rely on free and fair markets to get the best deal possible but also expect that rules are in place to protect them when things go wrong,

“Proposals to give the CMA stronger enforcement powers when firms break consumer law – including the ability to directly impose fines for the first time – are crucial to ensure we can continue cracking down on rip-offs and underhand deals, helping to deter firms from taking advantage of people.”

Fairness for venues and customers

Digital markets offer huge benefits but only if competition enables businesses of all shapes and sizes the opportunity to succeed, according to Cardell.

She added: “This bill is a legal framework fit for the digital age. It will establish a tailored, evidence-based and proportionate approach to regulating the largest and most powerful digital firms to ensure effective competition that benefits everyone.”

“We look forward to supporting this bill as it passes through the legislative process and stand ready to use these new powers once approved by parliament.”

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said the trade body was pleased the Government had listened to concerns about fake reviews and had taken action to tackle it through the enhanced powers given to the CMA through the bill.

“Fake reviews do irreparable damage to businesses, offer consumers a misleading view of a business and devalue the efforts of honest customers leaving genuine feedback,” she added.

“This bill will help to deliver fairness for both hospitality venues and their customers in this area and we look forward to working with [the] Government to achieve this.”

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