The new Consumer Rights Act: some key issues

In February 2015, we blogged about the new Consumer Rights Bill. On 1st October 2015, the Consumer Rights Act came into force. This post is designed to provide  a brief update on the new legislation.

What does the Consumer Rights Act cover?

Previously, the legal relationship between businesses and consumers was governed by numerous different pieces of legislation, which often lead to ambiguity when applying the law. Finally this has, to an extent, been put to an end by the new Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA). Any person looking at legal matters involving a business and a consumer should now turn to this Act. The Act is all about the rights of consumers – it is just like it sounds! This Act applies to both the sale of goods or services by a business to a consumer.

For traders: what should consumers expect from the goods you sell?

  1. Satisfactory quality: this means that you cannot sell goods that are faulty or damaged.
  2. Fit for purpose: if a consumer informs you that the goods are needed for a particular purpose, the goods you provide must be fit for that purpose. If they have not made you aware of it, the goods must be fit for the purpose the goods in question are commonly used.
  3. Match the given description: if you provide a description for the goods prior to or at the time of purchase, the goods must match that description.

Rules you might not be aware of:

  1. Faulty items: you should provide a full refund should there be a fault in the goods within 30 days from the purchase date.
  2. Delivery: unless agreed otherwise, you should deliver the goods within 30 days or the consumer gets a full refund.
  3. Services: any pre-contractual information about the trader or service is binding and the service provided should comply with the three following rules: i) the service should be carried out with reasonable skill and care, unless agreed otherwise ii) the price charged should be reasonable and iii) carried out within a reasonable time.
  4. Digital content: in the unlikely event of a fault in the paid digital content, or digital content supplied free with other paid items or digital content supplied on a physical item, consumers will be entitled to a full refund. This is the first time a law has been introduced in relation to digital content.

Unfair terms

The CRA states that “a term is unfair if, contrary to the requirements of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations under the contract to the detriment of the consumer.” Put simply, this means that a term which causes a significant imbalance in the parties’ rights and obligations, to the detriment of the consumer, will be excluded from the contract and will not be binding on the consumer. The fairness test only applies when the terms of a contract are neither transparent nor prominent to the consumer. This means that it’s important for traders to make sure that their terms are clear and noticeable.

If something goes wrong?

  1. Refund: consumers are able to get a refund for any faulty product within 30days of purchase. A refund for goods that are found to be faulty beyond 30 days will vary depending on the duration the goods have been held by the consumer. The 30 day full refund policy is no longer a choice for traders as it used to be, it is now a legal requirement!
  2. Repair or Replacement: consumers, at their own discretion, can exercise their right to get the goods repaired or replaced by you.
  3. Price Reduction: If both of the above remedies are unsuccessful, and the consumer would like to continue to keep the goods, you can be obliged to return a portion of the purchase price.

Want to know more?

The Citizens Advice Bureau has a number of excellent Q&As, examples and summaries.

We also regularly advise businesses on their duties to consumers. If you have an enquiry, please contact us here.

Shazani

This blog post is written by Shazani Kulthum Jameel. Shazani is an international student from Srilanka. She is currently studying for an M Law degree at Northumbria University. As part of her final year studies, Shazani works in a business and commercial firm within the Student Law Office. On graduation, given the opportunity, she intends to practice within a commercial or business context either based in the UK or internationally that will assist her in building a successful career in law.