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Motor Law Conference 2002

Packed conference hears
block exemption changes explained

A record number of delegates attended the 2002 Motor Law Conference at the Royal Automobile Club in London to hear Dr Sven Norberg, Director of the Competition Directorate of the European Commission explain the reasoning behind the proposals for the amendments to the motor industry block exemption regulation which will replace the existing framework in October 2002. Seftton Samuels of the SMMT commented on the proposals on behalf of the vehicle manufacturers, and Mrs Sue Brownson OBE, Chairman of the National Franchised Dealers' Association, on behalf of dealers. A detailed report on the Commission's proposals, Dr Norberg's comments, and the debate at the conference is in the January/February issue of Motor Law.

Other speakers at the conference also focused on legal changes which will affect the industry. Geraldine Tickle from solicitors Martineau Johnson explained how the proposed criminalisation of national competition law could hinder cartel-busters. Under a new law due to come into force at the end of the year, an individual involved in a cartel can face a jail sentence of up to 5 years, but while the individual goes to prison, the company he works for will escape with nothing more than a fine.

Stephen Groom, a marketing law specialist with solicitors Osborne Clarke, warned that the industry may be in the last chance saloon on car advertising, having accepted a number of adverse rulings from the ASA without challenge. According to Mr Groom, elsewhere in the world, including other EU countries, more repressive legislation on car advertising is already being introduced.

Debate in the afternoon focused on consumer protection issues. Trading Standards chief Ed Chicken warned the industry to clean up its act, and claimed that some of the largest motor industry companies are engaged in sharp practice and downright dishonesty, flouting trading standards legislation and driving down standards. Competition and consumer protection goes together, pointed out Mr Chicken, and he called on the industry to be readier to work with trading standards to tackle problem areas.

A session highlighting specific motor industry data protection issues followed, with Elizabeth Dunn from the Information Commissioner's Office explaining how they had dealt with a number of industry specific issues that had been referred to them.

David Hoggett from the DTI then wound up the afternoon by discussing the likely changes to UK law in order to implement the EC Directive on Consumer Guarantees and Related Rights. The so called "two year guarantee" period granted by the Directive was a myth, he said.

Papers from the conference are also available for purchase at 50.00 per set. Click here to print an order form (pdf format) or (doc format)
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