1st October 2015 marks a significant change in consumer law with the new Consumer Rights Act 2015 coming into force, replacing and updating much well-known legislation (such as the Unfair Contract Terms Act, the Sale of Goods Act and the Distance Selling Regulations), and the changes are vital for all consumer-facing businesses, whether you sell goods or supply services. The changes don’t just apply to retailers or online businesses, but to plumbers, electricians and now, for the first time, to those who deliver downloadable media content.
Whilst much of the new Act serves only to consolidate the various pieces of consumer law scattered through our legislative system, it does introduce a number of new provisions, and changes some long-standing rules.
The new Act provides consumers with clarity and greater protection – and there are now clear rules where services are not provided with reasonable skill and care.
- A clear right to refunds, repair and replacements – involving a two stage process;
- A 30 day right of rejection for non-digital content;
- A right to a price reduction, and/or for the business to have to repeat its performance;
- The fact that verbal and misleading ‘throwaway’ comments made by the business can be legally enforceable by the consumer;
- All terms that “specify the main subject matter of the contract” or relate to pricing must now be transparent, written in plain English, and prominently brought to the consumer’s attention;
- Clearer guidance on what are considered to be unfair (and hence unenforceable) terms in consumer contracts;
- The disappearance of the old “reasonableness” test (i.e. clauses that failed the test being unenforceable), and a new “fairness” test; and
- Changes relating to how businesses can restrict or exclude their liability.
In addition new regulations (The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (amendment) Regulations 2015) have come into force which change the way businesses must deal with consumer disputes and the information that must be provided to consumers. More information can be found on the BPE Blog or by contacting us directly.
Now would appear to be a prudent time for consumer-facing businesses to review their terms and conditions to ensure that they remain compliant in light of the new Act.
If you have any questions about this change and how it may affect you and your business, contact BPE:
Tel: 01242 248246
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.