Code 15: what industry and consumers are telling us

21 June 2021, Simon Towler, Director of Policy and External Relations

Thanks to everybody who came to our recent round of webinars that we held as part of our consultation on Code 15. It was good to see you all – albeit virtually – and for the great range of questions and engagement. For anybody who was not able to make it the slides we used are available here

Most of the 42 people who came to the webinars were supportive of the overall approach of Code 15 and our core objectives of introducing standards, focusing on the prevention of harm and making the Code simpler and easier to comply with. There were, of course, a range of questions raised around the detail of some of our proposals and I thought it would be useful to highlight some of the key themes which emerged from the webinars. 

Many of you raised concerns both in the webinars and in other meetings in relation to our proposal to introduce a 12-month re-opt-in requirement for subscription services. I hope it was clear from our discussions that this is a proposal which we knew would bring out strong views and an area where we really want to hear a wide range of evidence of likely impact – from both consumers and providers. We think this is a clean, simple and clear solution to the issue of consumers paying for subscriptions which they ultimately do not benefit from. But if there are better solutions that provide the same or a better level of protection for consumers, we very much welcome your suggestions. 

We also got a range of questions about the changes we are proposing to simplify our enforcement procedures, for example our proposals around oral hearing requests and having a single Code Adjudication Panel (CAP) decision-maker. We were asked about whether these changes might restrict due process and the right to fair treatment. We clarified that we have absolutely no intention to restrict due process. Under our proposals there will still be the right to appeal and access to judicial review. Our proposals are designed to speed things up and make clear-cut enforcement work much more efficient, something we know that industry want us to do.

What we anticipate under Code 15 is that our new approach to supervision and engagement will mean that we will be able to prevent harm in the first place and have to move to formal enforcement far less often. This was also a topic of interest at the webinars, especially in relation to our proposed information gathering powers. Understandably, given this is a brand-new approach to the way we intend to regulate, we got questions around what sort of information we would be requesting and how often. We clarified our intentions to use these new powers in a targeted and proportionate way that is not overly burdensome on industry.

We will publish procedures with all the necessary detail of the steps we will take to use our  Code 15 engagement and enforcement powers after we publish Code 15 and will work with industry during the implementation period to determine what reporting and supervision levels are right. 

Hopefully through the industry forum and webinars we have been able to answer any queries you have about Code 15, but please do get in touch if you have any further questions. You can find out all the information about how to contact us and how to respond to the consultation here – the consultation period closes on 5 July 2021.

We’re going to spend the months after the consultation closes analysing your responses and finalising the Code in advance of publishing our statement and Code 15 in the autumn.  

As we said at the webinars, we expect that there will be an implementation period with our goal being to bring the new Code into force in April 2022.  We look forward to continuing our engagement with you during the implementation period.