I would question Joshua Rozenberg’s assertion that the reason for the Consumer Rights Act being the antithesis of clarity is due to the recent reduction in the number of senior parliamentary counsel.
Cromwell is often quoted as describing English land law as a ‘tortuous and ungodly jumble’ and, as property practitioners will attest, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1987 seems to be the very manifestation of that maxim. The act has received scathing criticism in judgments over the years: ‘One could wish that the act provided as many answers as it raised problems’ and ‘part I of the act is not worth the paper it is written on’. On the assumption that it was drafted at a time when there were many more senior parliamentary counsel than today, it is clear that the production of well-drafted legislation is not simply a numbers game.
That said, when members of the profession comment on the act, they should be mindful of the potential for accusations of vested interest. Sir Thomas Bingham MR in Belvedere Managements Ltd v Frogmore Developments stated in reference to the act: ‘As it is, the legal profession would appear to be the main beneficiary of this obscure statute.’
James Singleton, senior associate, Wedlake Bell, London WC1