The Consumer Rights Act 2015

The latest piece of new legislation has been passed which consolidates a number of laws, including the rules on the sale of goods, the supply of services, and unfair contract terms involving consumers.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 introduces new remedies where a service is provided without reasonable care and skill or as agreed, and also brings into force new rules on the supply of digital content, recognising modern practice.  Digital content refers to data which is produced and supplied in digital form and will be taken to mean computer software, films, downloaded music and mobile device apps.

The Act preserves the requirement for goods to be of a satisfactory quality, be fit for a particular purpose, match a given description, model, or sample, and be installed correctly – where an installation has been agreed in the contract.  Consumer remedies include the short-term right to reject the goods within 30 days, an entitlement to have the goods repaired or replaced, an ability to claim a price reduction, and a final right to reject the goods.  Consumers may also be able to claim compensation for losses caused by the faulty goods.

Similarly, the Act requires that services are carried out with reasonable care and skill.  Where a trader has given information to the consumer and the consumer relies on it – for instance in relation to a promised timescale – then the trader is bound by it.  Further still, where no price is stated in the contract, a “reasonable” sum will be implied.  And where no time is stated, the services must be provided within a “reasonable” time.  Possible remedies available to consumers include requiring the trader to repeat the service to ensure it is completed to the appropriate standard, a price reduction, and compensation.  There is some comfort for service providers however in that under the legislation, a consumer does not have the right to engage a different business to complete the work and then charge the cost to the initial trader.

Whilst the legislation will fill in the necessary gaps where a contract does not cover something, it is recommended that businesses utilise contracts to avoid terms being implied by law and to ensure certainty of time, price, and the desired result.

The provisions are expected to come into force at the start of October 2015 and as such, contracts made before that date will fall under the scope of the existing legislation.

Forbes Solicitors regularly assists businesses and individuals with the creation and entering into of a variety of contracts be they business to consumer or business to business. For advice and assistance with commercial contracts or terms and conditions please contact John Pickervance in the Corporate and Restructuring Department by telephone on 0800 689 3206 or via our Contact Form.

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