10 May 2015

Consumer Rights Act Becomes Law

The Consumer Rights Act, which brings together key consumer rights into a single Act, came into effect on 1 October 2015.

The new Act changes the rules relating to the supply of goods and services to consumers and, for the first time, introduces specific rules relating to digital content such as ebooks, PDFs and software. It provides a single set of rules which will apply to all contracts including sale, hire, hire-purchase, and work and materials contracts. It will affect any business that sells to consumers including contractors carrying out construction work on domestic properties.

The change which is likely to be most significant for contractors is the increased clarity over the rights of consumers to reject goods if they are faulty:

• Under the new Act, if a good is faulty and the contractor has been asked to either repair or replace it, they only have one opportunity to do so, before the consumer can either claim a price reduction or reject the good. It is at the consumer’s discretion as to whether they allow the contractor further attempts to rectify the problem.
• In order to claim a price reduction, the consumer must keep the faulty good and the price reduction must be appropriate to the circumstances.
• If the consumer rejects the faulty good, then they are entitled to a refund.
• The right to reject a faulty good will be subject to a fixed 30-day period. After this period has expired, the only remedies available will be repair, replacement or part refund. 

The new rules only apply to contracts made on or after the 1 October 2015; any contracts made before this date will be subject to previous legislation. 

To assist businesses in complying with the new Act, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute has produced Guidance for Businesses as well as three specific guides: The Sale and Supply of Goods, The Supply of Services and Digital Content.