Monday 29 August 2016

Editorial: Welcome boost for those business people who play by the rules

Published 24/03/2014 | 02:30

All the citizens of the country may be in for some good news for a change.

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The Government is tomorrow expected to clear the way for the Consumer and Competition Act, which has the potential to bring a number of benefits. One is the merger of the Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority, which will advance the Government's promise to reduce the number of quangos and the cost of duplication.

But the planned law also proposes a new get-tough attitude in progressing consumer protection with a clampdown on cartels and restrictive practices like price-fixing which are inimical to citizens' rights. It also plans more comprehensive measures that could see the authorities finally take white-collar crime every bit as seriously as more traditional forms of criminal activity.

The new law will extend the provisions of the Criminal Justice Act 2011 to give tougher powers of investigation to the authorities dealing with allegations of business crime.

It will also extend the Communications Data Retention Act 2011 which obliges phone and internet companies to keep records for a minimum of two years.

Officials say the overall aim is to remove the scope for suspects to delay answering questions and furnishing required documents. The hope is that white collar and computer-based crime can be more effectively detected and discouraged.

That would be a most welcome and overdue development that could help promote justice and prosperity and offer encouragement to regular business people who try to play by the rules. The law will not of itself change our societal attitude to white-collar crime – but it has the potential to be a very good start.

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