Consumer Rights Act 2015

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The government has introduced the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the Act) which aims to overhaul and consolidate the previously confusing and fragmented consumer rights legislation in the UK.The Act, which will come into force on 1st October 2015replaces eight existing laws, including the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. This blog provides a brief overview on some of the key changes that the Act will make to consumer law in the UK.

Sale and supply of goods
  • Implied terms – Terms will be implied into consumer contracts that goods will (1) be of satisfactory quality; (2) be fit for a particular purpose; and (3) match the description/model seen by the consumer. Under the Act, pre-contract information such as details on payment, delivery and after-sales service will also become implied terms of the contract.
  • Short term right to reject – If the goods are faulty or not as described, the consumer will have a short-term right to reject the goods within 30 days unless the expected shelf life of the goods is shorter (e.g. perishable goods).
  • Repair or replace – Consumers will have the right to request that faulty or wrongly described goods are repaired or replaced (even after the 30 day right to reject has expired). Consumers will also have the right to a reduction in the price or to reject the goods after one unsuccessful attempt to repair or replace the goods.
  • Burden of proof – The onus lies on the consumer to prove that the goods do not conform to the contract if they are exercising their short term right to reject, or if more than six months have passed, the consumer will need to prove that the defect was present at the time of delivery.
Supply of services
  • Implied terms – Terms will remain implied in consumer contracts for the supply of services that (1) the services will be performed with reasonable skill and care; and (2) the price for the services will be reasonable if not agreed; and (3) the services will be performed within a reasonable period if not agreed. The Act will further imply that anything said or written to the consumer about the trader or service is an implied term, if it influences the consumer’s decision to enter into the contract or when making decisions after entering into the contract.
  • Remedies – If the service is not provided with reasonable skill and care or it does not conform to pre-contractual statements that the trader has made, the consumer can insist on the trader performing the service again to complete it accurately (subject to certain exceptions). In certain circumstances, the consumer may also claim a price reduction depending on the severity of the breach.
Digital content

The Act introduces, for the first time, specific rights and remedies for digital content such as computer games and downloads:

  • Implied terms: The Act introduces implied terms into every transaction that the digital content supplied must be (1) of satisfactory quality; (2) fit for a particular purpose; and (3) meet any description.
  • Remedies: If the digital content supplied does not meet the quality standard, the consumer will be entitled to a repair or replacement unless it’s either impossible to do so or disproportionate in comparison to another remedy that is available. The consumer will also be entitled to claim compensation in the event that the digital content supplied causes damage to the consumers’ device or other digital content.
Unfair contract terms

The Act will cover the use of unfair terms (as defined in the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977) in consumer contracts. The Act introduces:

  • A new ‘prominence’ requirement: terms specifying the main subject matter of the contract or detailing the price must be transparent and prominent.
  • Additions to the grey list:The ‘grey list’ is an indicative and non-exhaustive list of terms in consumer contracts which may be regarded as being unfair. The Act adds three new terms presumed to be unfair:
      • Disproportionately high charges where the consumer decides not to conclude or perform the contract or for services which have not been supplied;
      • Terms which permit the trader to determine the price after a contract has been formed; and
      • Terms which allow a trader to determine the characteristics of the subject matter after the contract has been formed.

As the Act makes changes to contractual relationships and affects how products should be offered to consumers, businesses should begin preparing for these changes early on. This includes reviewing sales contracts, pre-contract information and cancellation and returns policies.

For further information, or for advice in complying with the Act, please contact Rina Sond.

Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.