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New ‘Right to Repair’ proposals are broadly welcomed

By autotech-nath on November 19, 2022

The existing Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation (MVBER) expires on 31 May 2023 and sets out automatic exemptions for certain categories of agreements related to the purchase, sale, and resale of spare parts for motor vehicles, and the provision of repair and maintenance services for vehicles. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has recently reviewed the MVBER and has proposed revisions to government.

The UK Alliance for the Freedom of Car Repair (UK AFCAR) has welcomed the new proposals but has called for greater detail on how positive revisions of the regulation would be implemented to support motorists, workshops and parts suppliers.

On key areas outlined by UK AFCAR, the CMA has responded positively stating that “the definition of ‘spare parts’ should clearly include lubricants and encompass all software together with activation/configuration codes for replacement parts and components, which are strictly necessary to fit those parts or to replace or update components or systems of the vehicle, which are necessary for the use or operation of a motor vehicle, with the exception of fuel.”

The CMA’s recommendations also include a positive addition on the definition of ‘technical and vehicle information’ which will be treated as an ‘excluded restriction’ that would require self-assessment by a vehicle manufacturer so the wording in the guidance will be critical to its implementation. “The CMA finds that in-vehicle data should be included in this definition and acknowledges that the manner in which information is provided is relevant,”the report said.

Regarding vehicle warranties, the CMA proposes additional and updated guidance to clarify that the clauses contained in all documents proposed to consumers by OEM/authorised dealers or repairers should clearly state the consumer’s right to use the service of an independent repairer without losing the benefit of the warranty.

Another critical point made by the recommendation is the “recognition of new technologies and communication interface” with “access to technical and in-vehicle information” being a critical development. However, it is still referencing the workshop level as the basis for competition.

This new definition will include access to in-vehicle data but does not include independent and direct access to the vehicle remotely – only what must be made available once the vehicle is in the workshop. This, however, legitimises the VM’s ‘extended vehicle’ model and distorts the ability to compete.

Mark Field, IAAF Chief Executive and UK AFCAR Chairman, said: “We broadly welcome the top-line revisions to the MV-BEO. A key issue of the previous legislation was lack of enforcement of the regulation and its impact, particularly at garage level. We are only at the beginning of a long journey that seeks to ensure consumer choice – and the ability for the aftermarket to compete – is protected.”

Andy Hamilton, CEO LKQ Euro Car Parts, commented: “Fundamentally, competition is dependent on the existence of a level playing field between authorised and independent operators, which means fair and shared access to essential inputs such as spare parts and technical and vehicle information. The detailed wording of the guidance will therefore be critical. The CMA clearly acknowledges this and is taking steps to account for the technological developments of recent years – while building more flexibility into the guidance of the proposed new MV-BEO, which will also have a shorter duration, enabling another full review in six years – not ten as was the case under the previous EU regime.”

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