The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force on 1 October 2015. It applies to contracts between traders and consumers entered into after 1 October 2015. Contracts entered into before the coming into force of the Act are still governed by the previous legislation, namely the Sale of Goods Act 1979, as amended.
This is a major development in consumer protection law. It not only consolidates the previous legislation but also introduces a number of new concepts and brings up to date consumer legislation across the whole of the UK.
A consumer now has a series of remedies, in addition to common law remedies, which require to be exercised in a sequential way. As it was with the previous legislation, goods sold by a trader to a consumer require to be (i) of satisfactory quality, (ii) fit for their purpose and (iii) as described or match the sample provided. The new Act goes on to narrate that such goods must also correspond to any models seen or examined at the stage of the contract being made and also be installed properly by the seller where such installation is to be carried out as part of the deal.
Where items are defective, the consumer is entitled to a straight refund within 30 days (that is 30 days of the date of delivery of the goods) or a right to repair or replacement of the items. Such repair or replacement has to be provided at the seller’s own expense. Thereafter if the repair or the replacement item continues to be unsatisfactory, the purchaser can either then intimate rejection of the item and seek a full refund provided that is done within six months, or a partial refund after six months. Alternatively, whilst the consumer may retain the item he would then be entitled to an abatement of the price. In such a situation however the seller will always have an option to say no to either option if he can show that that would be an expense out of all proportion to the defect.
One of the innovative features of the new Act is a remedy for defective digital products. Digital products include computer games, DVDs, kindle books and the like. If there is a defect with such digital products, consumers can insist on repair or replacement and thereafter an abatement of the price if the defect is not resolved to their satisfaction.
The legislation also introduced remedies for consumers where defective or inadequate services are provided to them. Consumers are now entitled to insist upon repeat performance of the job where it was not conform to contract or not carried out in terms of the contract’s specification and also a reduction in the contract price if the remedial work was ineffective in remedying the defect.
Verbal or written representations made by a trader about the services to be provided can now be taken to be part of the contract between the consumer and the trader. The previous law was to the effect that such representations were not part of the contract. Now they will be deemed to be contract terms and a consumer can sue for breach of those terms. Again, this strengthens the consumer’s position in a dispute with the trader.