The European Union's Influence on English Consumer Contract Law

Geraint G. Howells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The European Union has introduced many consumer protection laws. As the U.K. prepares to leave the Union it is timely to reflect on the impact of Europe on U.K. consumer law. Unfair terms is taken as a case study as it involved the U.K. adopting a good faith standard which has traditionally been seen as alien to common law traditions. There is also a divergent impression given as the Court of Justice of the European Union has appeared open to using the rules to protect consumers, whereas the House of Lords/Supreme Court has found against consumers in three cases where the unfairness test was raised. However, it is argued that the U.K. has been able to handle the European test and there is nothing intrinsic in the common law approach that runs counter to the European unfair terms regime. All regimes struggle with finding the right balance of consumer protection. However, criticism can be made of the unwillingness to refer key issues to Luxembourg under the preliminary reference procedure. The freedom of the U.K. to deviate from European law will turn on any Brexit deal, but it is unlikely there will be much demand for change in this area of law.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1904-1952
Number of pages49
JournalGeorge Washington Law Review
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2018


  • UK


Dive into the research topics of 'The European Union's Influence on English Consumer Contract Law'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this