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Coronavirus – CMA guidance on the Early Years sector – UK

  • United Kingdom
  • Commercial and IT
  • Coronavirus - Country overview
  • Consumer


On 28 July 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) released detailed guidance on how consumer law applies to the agreements between nurseries/early years providers and consumers (parents) affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CMA also released an open letter to providers in the early years sector, highlighting practices that the CMA considers unfair contrary to consumer law. This was published in response to alleged unfair practices cause by COVID-19 disruptions.

Examples of unfair practices highlighted in the guidance and open letter include:

  • Providers requiring full or excessively large fees for services which are not being carried out due to the pandemic public health restrictions and government guidance;
  • Providers relying on unfair cancellation terms, such as requiring unreasonable notice to be given, or high cancellation fees in cases where the business is unable to provide the service; and
  • Providers putting unfair pressure on consumers to agree to make payments by threatening that the child’s place will be lost or the provider will go out of business.

Matthew Gough, a partner in our Consumer law team, commented:

“The CMA’s continued focus on unfair practices should be noted and sectors that engage with consumers on a regular basis should review their terms and conditions to ensure they are fair and reasonable. This is particularly important with the increasing possibility of local lockdowns and/or a second wave of infections impacting providers’ ability to deliver services to consumers”

The CMA guidance in full is available here.

The CMA’s open letter is available here.

For more information on your obligations under consumer protection legislation, our consumer law team would be happy to assist you.