The Consumer Rights Act 2015 effects some important changes to consumer law. The Act concerns many aspects of dealing with consumers, but particularly the supply of goods, services, and digital content. It supplements the revised approach to information and cancellation rights, enacted earlier in the year. This article summarises some of the main points of this new legislation.
- Chapter 2 of the Act concerns goods, and is stated to apply to sales contracts, hire contracts, hire purchase agreements and other contracts for the transfer of goods. There are certain exclusions, relating to contracts for currency, mortgages and such like, and gratuitous contracts (in the case of Scotland).
- Under section 9, goods are required to be of satisfactory quality. Under section 10, goods are required to be fit for any purpose made known to the trader by the consumer prior to conclusion of the contract, unless it can be shown that the consumer did not rely or that it was unreasonable for the consumer to rely upon the skill or judgment of the trader. Sections 11 through to 18 contain a number of other important requirements, as regards matters such as conformance to description and samples.
- Sections 19 through to 24 contain consumer rights in relation to defective goods. They include rights to reject (in whole or in part), rights to repair and replacement of the relevant goods, and rights to price reductions.
- Section 26 addresses installments, and states that the consumer is not bound to accept delivery by installments unless they have expressly agreed to this. It also sets out certain remedies in relation to the whole contract, where there is fault in relation to a single installment.
- Chapter 3 of the Act addresses digital content contracts. Section 33 states that sales platform providers are excluded from the effect of the provisions.
- Sections 34 through to 41 set standards for the supply of digital content. They include requirements relating to the content being of satisfactory quality, for purpose, and as described. If there are aspects of the content in respect of which the trader wishes to protect themselves from claims, it is important that these are properly brought to the attention of the consumer in prior to contract conclusion, and in the case of any trial content.
- Section 39 includes provisions relating to the availability of processing facilities following supply of the content. Where processing facilities are to be made available, they are required to be made available for a reasonable time, unless the contract specifies otherwise.
- Remedies for defective content are provided, and these include rights to repair or replacement, and rights to price reduction.
- Section 46 sets out an additional remedy in relation to device damage.
- Chapter 4 of the Act concerns services. Section 48 notes that this Chapter applies to contracts for a trader to supply a service to a consumer. This excludes contracts for employment or apprenticeship, and gratuitous contracts in Scotland.
- Section 49 focuses on the standards of service and provides that every contract to supply a service should be treated as including a term that the trader must perform the service with reasonable care and skill. The test of reasonable care and skill varies from trade to trade.
- Section 50 provides that anything said or written to the consumer, by or on behalf of the trader, about the trader or the service should be included as a term in the contract if the consumer takes it into account when deciding to enter into the contract or when making any decision about the service after entering into the contract. However, any qualifications given at the same time are applied, as are any changes to that information expressly agreed between the parties.
- Section 51 covers where a consumer has not paid for a service and the contract does not include a price or way in which a price can be calculated. Section 51 states the contract will include a term that the consumer must pay a reasonable price for the service, but no more.
- Section 52 applies if the contract does not provide a time frame for the service to be performed or remedied mechanism for how this could be worked out. A term that the trader must perform the services within a reasonable time is now implied into the contract.
- Sections 54 to 56 enact rights relating to faulty performance, which supplement but do not replace existing rights set out in the contract or arising under law. In essence, rights are to require a price reduction or repeat performance. In the case of price reductions, any refunds must be provided without undue delay and in any case within 14 calendar days of the day the trader agreed the consumer is entitled to a refund, the refund should also be paid by the same means of payment as the consumer used to pay for the services, unless the consumer advises the trader in writing of otherwise. The trader cannot impose any fee for the refund.
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