February 16, 2024
Last updated 16th February 2024
We’ve created this tracker as a resource to keep you up to date with all the latest developments on the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill (DMCC Bill), and to share our reaction and insight upon publication.
We’ll be keeping this page updated with a series of summaries and commentary on the DMCC Bill over the coming days and weeks – please bookmark it to make sure you don’t miss our latest posts.
DMCC Bill passage tracker
16th February 2024
DMCC Completes House of Lords Committee Stage
The DMCC Bill has now completed the Committee Stage in the House of Lords and a new version has been published, incorporating the few changes made, ahead of the Report Stage (see below for what happens at Report Stage).
No material text changes were made to the consumer aspects of the DMCC Bill during the Committee Stage.
Minor amendments include:
- clarification that the maximum amounts of daily monetary penalties (which the court and CMA can impose) refer to the maximum per day, not in total; and
- a new Schedule listing consequential amendments arising from the revocation of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
Proposals for additions to the list of expressly banned commercial practices were all rejected (including drip-pricing, fake reviews, greenwashing, and online marketing of counterfeit or dangerous products), largely on the basis that these practices are either being dealt with under separate consultations or already fall under the remit of the law (albeit not expressly).
One key update did emerge in the context of the new subscription regime (see our summary here): During the Committee Stage debate, the Government confirmed that:
- it will publicly consult on secondary legislation governing returns and refunds under the new subscription regime, to ensure the cooling-off period is not exploited; and
- the subscription rules will come into effect no earlier than October 2025 (i.e., a delayed implementation period for this element of the DMCC).
What is the Report Stage?
Report Stage gives all members of the House of Lords a further opportunity to examine and make amendments to a bill.
A date for the DMCC Bill’s Report Stage hasn’t yet been announced, but Report Stage usually starts a couple of weeks after Committee Stage has concluded and can be spread over several days (but is generally shorter than Committee Stage).
After Report Stage, the DMCC Bill will be reprinted to include all the agreed amendments and will then move to its third and final reading – the penultimate stage before Royal Assent.
10th January 2024
Where are we now?
Having completed its passage through the various House of Commons stages (see further below on this page), the DMCC Bill is now at the third stage in the House of Lords – the “Committee Stage” – due to commence in earnest with its first sitting on 22 January, quickly followed by a further sitting two days later on 24 January.
What is the Committee Stage?
The Committee Stage involves detailed line-by-line examination of a bill.
Before Committee Stage begins, amendments are collated and published in a ‘marshalled list’. Updated lists are produced before the start of each day of Committee Stage.
During Committee Stage, every clause of a bill must be agreed to and votes on any amendments can take place.
Committee Stage usually takes up to eight days (but can be longer).
What happens next/timings?
The Committee Stage is the eighth of a total of eleven stages before Royal Assent, so it’s fair to say that the DMCC is well on its way to becoming law.
Whilst it’s difficult to accurately predict timings for Royal Assent, we can make estimates based on where the DMCC currently stands: summer/autumn of this year is looking likely (to give a comparator, the recently-passed Online Safety Act took six months to move from Committee Stage through to Royal Assent).
We will keep a close eye on progress, so remember to bookmark this tracker page to stay up-to-date.
4th December 2023
DMCC Bill completes its final stage in House of Commons, with some amendments made
Below we summarise the key consumer law amendments made during the final Commons stage.
- Reminders of renewal payments: Businesses offering subscription contracts are required under the DMCC Bill to send reminders of renewal payments on expiry of any free/concessionary period and prior to further upcoming payments, but no more than every 6 months. Changes to the frequency of the reminders now mean that businesses will have more leeway to decide when they give a reminder as opposed to ensuring (as provided for under earlier drafts of the DMCC Bill) that reminders are sent within a very specific timeframe of between three to five working days before the last date when a consumer can cancel. Under the amended DMCC Bill, businesses must give a ‘reasonable’ notice period, and this must be detailed in the pre-contract information provided to the consumer. If the business fails to comply with this requirement, the consumer will have a right to cancel the contract. For contracts that require renewal payments less frequently than every 12 months, rather than providing between ten and fourteen working days’ notice before the last cancellation date, businesses must now provide an additional reminder a reasonable amount of time before the regular reminder.
- Powers of the Secretary of State: The amendments also mean that the Secretary of State has the power to disapply or modify reminder notice requirements for certain businesses or contracts.
- Gambling contracts: The House of Commons acknowledged that gambling contracts would not be caught by the subscription rules as specific gambling legislation already exists to regulate these types of contracts.
- Burden of proof: Where a dispute arises, it will be the responsibility of the consumer to prove that they have given notice to cancel and also that the method by which they sent the cancellation notice was sufficiently clear, as per the requirements of the DMCC Bill.
The CMA and the Courts – a new duty
A new duty was introduced in this round of amendments, requiring the CMA and the Courts to treat consumer interests as paramount. The duty includes addressing consumer detriment (such as the protection of vulnerable consumers), expediting investigations that give rise to consumer detriment, and narrowing points of challenge in appeals to CMA decisions that engage consumer detriment.
Comment and next steps
This latest round of amendments eases the position of businesses slightly, with a marginally more relaxed approach to reminder notices and placing more responsibility on consumers to ensure they clearly communicate cancellation notices.
The DMCC Bill is now at its second reading stage in the House of Lords.
Keep up to date with all the latest news and commentary on the DMCC Bill by bookmarking this tracker page.
13th October 2023
A post-summer update:
- The DMCC Bill has completed the House of Commons Committee Stage (see “Next Steps – Committee Stage and Written Evidence” below) and is now passing through the ‘Report Stage’ (see the Government tracker here).
- We’re also awaiting the outcome of the Government’s recent Consultation on certain aspects of consumer law including several under the DMCC Bill (see our update here and the Consultation page here).
Read our latest insight:
In the meantime, you can read our latest insight here: an analysis of the hot topic of the day – so-called “Greenwashing” (i.e., misleading environmental claims) – and how the DMCC Bill will affect the regulation of this ever more important issue.
14th July 2023
DMCC Bill completes Committee stage
The DMCC Bill has now completed its Committee stage in the House of Commons.
Some amendments were made to the DMCC Bill, which has been reprinted in advance of the next legislative stage (see further below for next steps).
Click here to read our latest insight where we pick out some of the key points to note from the consumer law enforcement perspective.
CMA submits written evidence to DMCC Committee
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has submitted written evidence to the Digital Markets, Competition and Consumers Bill Committee (see further below for Committee details).
The CMA’s submission sets out:
- why it considers the DMCC Bill is needed;
- elements of the DMCC Bill it thinks are particularly important;
- how the CMA is preparing for the new responsibilities proposed in the DMCC Bill; and
- how the CMA’s processes are designed to be transparent and accountable both to Parliament and the UK public.
The CMA will be the chief regulator and enforcer of the DMCC Bill, so it’s particularly interesting to read its own views on the legislation.
You can read the full CMA submission here.
House of Lords Digital and Communications Committee calls for evidence
On 24 May 2023, the House of Lords Communications and Digital Committee (HoL Committee) published a call for evidence to seek views to inform its review of the DMCC Bill.
The HoL Committee’s review of the DMCC Bill will focus on Part 1 (digital markets) and Part 2 (competition).
To enable it to scrutinise the DMCC Bill in detail, the HoL Committee has asked for views on the following questions:
- To what extent are businesses and consumers affected by limited competition in digital markets, and what are the consequences?
- Does the DMCC Bill strike the right balance between regulating digital markets and encouraging innovation?
- What are the strengths of the DMCC Bill’s measures to regulate digital markets, what are its main weaknesses and how should these be addressed?
- Are there other existing measures or pieces of legislation that would help address challenges?
- Is the Competition and Markets Authority sufficiently well prepared to implement the new regime?
- How does the UK’s approach compare to the EU and US?
The deadline for written contributions is 12 June 2023. Instructions for submission can be found here.
The DMCC Bill was debated and had its second reading in the House of Commons on 17 May 2023. It is about to begin the Committee stage in the House of Commons, and the House of Commons Public Bill Committee has also called for written evidence on all aspects of the DMCC Bill (see below).
Progress to Date – First and Second Readings
The DMCC Bill’s second reading was held on 18 May 2023. You can read the debate here.
Next Steps – Committee Stage and Written Evidence
The next stage is for the DMCC Bill to be considered by the House of Commons Public Bill Committee (the Committee).
As of 18 May 2023, the Committee is open to receive written evidence from any parties with relevant expertise and experience or a special interest the DMCC Bill.
The Committee will scrutinise the DMCC Bill line by line. The first sitting of the Committee is expected to be held on Tuesday 13 June, and the Committee is scheduled to report by 5pm on Tuesday 18 July. However, the Government has stressed that the Committee can conclude the process earlier than the expected deadline noted above, so early submissions are strongly encouraged.
Submissions should be emailed to email@example.com.
Further information, including guidance on submitting evidence, can be found here.
New Briefing Papers
The Government has released ‘Library Briefing Papers’ on the digital markets and competition provisions, and (separately) the consumer provisions, of the DMCC Bill.
House of Commons Library and House of Lords Library briefing papers aim to be politically impartial, containing factual information as well as a range of opinions on each subject. Briefing papers on Bills are produced before second parliamentary readings and, in the Commons, after the Committee stage.
May 19, 2023
There’s been some movement this week as the DMCC Bill makes its way through the legislative process.
May 9, 2023
We’ve worked our way through the digital markets and competition law reforms – click the button below to read our initial thoughts.
April 28, 2023
We’ve worked our way through the consumer law reforms – click the button below to read our initial thoughts.
April 26, 2023
The DMCC Bill, as introduced to Parliament, has been published and it’s a hefty 388 pages!
We’re busy digesting and analysing its implications – watch this space for summaries and commentary over the coming days and weeks.
April 25, 2023
DMCC Bill to be released today, the Government has announced.
While we await the full text, you can read our initial summaries of the indicated reforms here:
In its Autumn Statement, the UK Government announced that it was accelerating the DMCC Bill which will bring in significant and wide-ranging reforms.
The DMCC Bill will do 3 key things:
- Set up the UK’s first digital regulatory framework
- Upgrade the competition law powers of the CMA
- Introduce new and upgraded consumer protection laws and significantly increase enforcement powers
Preparing for the DMCC Bill
Our concise, downloadable summaries below will help you prepare for what’s coming, whether your business is affected by certain elements only or the whole DMCC Bill.