Latest regulatory updates

Last updated 2 October 2020

Kurt Janson

Kurt Janson, Director of the Tourism Alliance, gives a monthly update on the latest regulatory changes affecting the hospitality industry. 

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The Online Intermediation Services for Business Users (Enforcement) Regulations 2020

Amongst all the issues facing business operators over the last six months, it has been easy to miss the implementation of new pieces of legislation that impact on tourism businesses.

One of these is the Online Intermediation Services for Business Users (Enforcement) Regulations 2020, which came into force on 12 July 2020.

These new regulations aim to promote fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services – which includes online platforms and marketplaces, app stores and social media platforms. This means that it covers businesses such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor and AirBnB.

At the heart of the regulations is a new requirement that intermediaries must set out their terms and conditions in plain language, including the way they rank businesses on their platform and the circumstances under which they can suspend or terminate a business’ account.

It also introduces a ban on certain unfair practices including:

  • suspension or termination of a seller's account without clear reasons
  • failure to provide terms and conditions in plain language
  • failure to give adequate notice for changes to terms and conditions. The regulations require 30 days' advance notice of account termination (with some exceptions).

There are also requirements to:

  • disclose the main parameters used to rank goods and services on their site
  • disclose any advantage given to their own products over others
  • explain what data they collect and how they share and use it
  • to set up an internal complaint handling procedure for their business users.

The regulations allow businesses to bring a civil action against any provider of online intermediation services, related to any loss or damage that may be caused by the intermediary failing to comply with the legislation. In addition, any business organisation or trade association representing business users can also bring proceedings against any online intermediation services or providers of online search engines for breach of the legislation.