The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the Act) came into force on 1 October 2015 and will affect contracts that are made between so called “traders” and “consumers” (these terms are defined below). It will replace or consolidate most of the existing law in this area, such as the Sale of Goods Act 1979, the Sale of Goods and Services Act 1982 and the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977.
The changes will be of interest to all “consumers”, which is defined in the Act as including not just consumers in the usual sense of the word, but also sole traders and people that work from home who have made a purchase that is primarily for non-business purposes. The definition will not include corporate bodies or limited liability partnerships.
As well as being relevant to consumers, the Act should also be of interest to any one who is a “trader” i.e. someone who acts for a purpose relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession. It seems clear at this stage that this will cover companies, sole traders, and even not for profit charities; and may ultimately increase a traders liability to a consumer.
The Act also introduces the concept of “non-conforming” goods/services, for goods/services that don’t meet the statutory quality, e.g. where they don’t conform to the contract. Where a non-conforming good/service has been supplied the Act also sets out the remedies available (discussed below).
One other interesting area the Act covers specifically is “digital content” which is defined as date which are produced and supplied in disk form.
Consumers who have been supplied with non-conforming goods, such as those which are damaged or faulty, by a trader have the following remedies available to them:
- Short-term right to reject – the consumer will have the right to reject the goods within 30 days.
- Repair or replace – once the right to reject (above) has expired the consumer will have the right to choose either a repair or replacement at the trader’s cost. However, the repair/replacement must be proportionate i.e. a trader will not have to provide an expensive repair if a replacement is much cheaper.
- Final right to reject or price reduction – if, following the repair/replacement, the goods are still non-conforming the consumer will be able to reject or a price reduction for the accepted goods can be claimed.
This article covers just some of the changes to consumer law which came into affect from 1 October 2015.