The new Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the Act) takes effect from today and acts to strengthen, simplify and modernise previous UK consumer legislation.
Existing UK consumer protection laws and regulations have been consolidated, making them clearer and easier for both consumers and businesses to understand. The Act also introduces some new rights and obligations which are likely to impact retailers and their dealings. This article briefly sets out some of the key changes.
As with the Sale of Goods Act, all products will still need to:
However, the Act adds that products must also:
The Act introduces a new tiered approach to the consumer's right to reject goods:
1. Where goods are faulty (of unsatisfactory quality/ unfit for purpose / not as described) consumers are entitled to either:
2. If the first repair/replacement is not satisfactory or another fault appears the consumer is entitled to either:
Whilst the consumer has the option to choose between repair and replacement, a trader has the right to reject either option if it is disproportionately expensive.
Whilst the Sale of Goods Act covered contracts for the sale of goods and the sale of services, the Act introduces a third type of contract which is for the sale of digital content.
Digital content is defined as "data that are produced and supplied in a digital form" and includes software, games and in-game purchases, music, films and e-books.
The Act also takes a tiered approach to consumer remedies for faulty digital content. Here consumers are entitled to a repair or replacement in the first instance and then to a price reduction (which can be up to 100%) if the problem still exists.
Consumers are also entitled to additional remedies where damage is caused to the consumer's device and/or other digital content.
Dependant on the circumstances, where consumers are unhappy with services received the remedies available to them are:
Previously, if a retailer provided misleading information to a consumer, a consumer could only raise an action for misrepresentation, on the basis that such information did not form part of the contract. However, under the Act, any spoken or written statements made by a retailer will form part of the contract and as such consumers will now be entitled to claim for breach of contract where such statements are not adhered to. This includes both pre and post contractual statements.
The Act places greater obligations on traders to make consumers aware of key terms in the contract including any terms which deal with the main subject matter of the contract and any terms which set out the price. Such terms must be:
The Act also extends the fairness test to cover consumer notices, which can be either written or oral and renders any consumer notices which are deemed to be unfair as unenforceable.
Whilst the Act largely brings together pre-existing legislation, it does also introduce a number of additional rights and obligations which retailers should be aware of. Retailers would be wise to ensure that they have reviewed any product terms and conditions and other information provided to consumers in light of the new legislation to ensure that they are compliant.
For further information or advice, or if you are interested in training on this subject please contact Duncan Reed on +44 (0)333 006 0742 or duncan.reed@TLTsolicitors.com.
This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at October 2015. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases. For more information see our terms & conditions on www.TLTsolicitors.com