The government has poured cold water on European Commission proposals for an optional common European sales law.

In a response to a call for evidence published today, it describes the commission’s plan as ‘an unbalanced proposal which is overly complex, introduces confusion and legal uncertainty and is unclear on how it interacts with other relevant EU laws’.

According to the response, the measure was strongly opposed by the legal community. ‘The majority of legal respondents said that they would not use, or recommend the use’ of a new law. ‘There was felt to be a fundamental problem in creating a distinct law for the sale and supply of goods and services, separate from other contractual procedures. Respondents argued this would only lead to uncertainty and incoherence.

‘Jurisprudence in the area would also take years and perhaps decades to establish, creating an additional burden on the UK’s judicial system and on the court of justice of the European Union. This would lead to significant delays and expense in the resolution of disputes and interim uncertainty regarding the interpretation of the law.’

In May this year, the Law Society described the sales law proposal as unnecessary and unlikely to support an increase in trade.

The UK response, from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and the Scottish and Northern Ireland governments, said that the UK supported ‘an ambitious approach to the harmonisation of consumer law to support the retail single market. We continue to think that this is more likely to deliver the commission’s aims than a new, voluntary contract law’.