Consumer Protection

Consumer rights in the UK were complex and outdated causing a great deal of confusion amongst consumers. This was evidenced by government figures, policies and proposals. In order to tackle this, the government introduced the Consumer Rights Act (the CRA).The main provisions of the CRA came into force on 1 October 2015, with the balance effective from 1 October 2016.

The legislation is a very consumer-centric policy and as such imposes a significant burden on the trader. The additional remedies coupled with enforcement through private actions, collective actions by bodies such as the Trading Standards Office or voluntary redress could be negative for society as it brings about a ‘compensation culture’.

Everyone expects things to be simple and go smoothly, for example, eating at a restaurant or buying a new mobile phone but when we deal with other people, commercial businesses and organisations, things are far from simple.

When an individual purchases goods or services, they have consumer rights. These right protect you from unfair treatment.

If you are concerned and feel you have been mistreated, we can help. We provide a full range of expert advice on consumer law, some examples being:

●  Faulty Goods

●  Poor service

●  Home improvements

●  Rogue traders

●  Buying or repairing a car

●  Holidays and transport

●  Credit and store cards / counterfeit goods

Each consumer law situation is unique and our expert solicitors can advise on issues you have faced when buying goods and services. We can be the first port of call before you go to trading standards.

Over the years there has been confusion about consumer protection laws, this is partly due to a lack of awareness and as a result, many consumers are not exercising their legal rights.

Definitions 

A consumer is defined as “an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft or profession”.

Suppliers of goods, services or digital content are defined as ‘traders’ under the Act. The definition includes any person acting in the trader's name or on the trader's behalf.

Faulty Goods

Consumers who have bought new or second-hand goods and then realise something has gone wrong may be entitled to a refund, repair or replacement.

You’ll have legal rights if the item you bought is:

●  not of satisfactory quality;

●  not fit for purpose;

●  match the description, sample or model; and

●  be installed correctly (if part of the contract)

Remedies

●  right to reject within 30 days of return unless perishable goods. The consumer is entitled to a 100% refund.

●  repair or replacement after 30 days. The trader is given one opportunity to repair or replace the goods.

●  price reduction or final right to reject - if repair is unsuccessful and replacement is unavailable then the consumer is entitled to reject the goods and get a reduction of up to 100% of the amount paid.

Poor service

If you have paid a person or business to carry out a service- for example give you a manicure or provide food for a wedding or provide transport for a holiday and the service has not been:

●  performed with reasonable care and skill;

●  completed for a reasonable price;

● completed within a reasonable time; or

●  completed in the way that the consumer asked for or was promised (oral and in writing)

Remedies

●  Ask them to do it again

●  Ask for a discount

●  In rare occasions, appoint a new supplier and claim the monies back

The advice we give will depend on when you made the purchase. If it was before 1 October 2015, then the Sale of Goods Act 1979 Applies.

If you purchased the product on or after the 1 st October 2015, then the Consumer Rights Act 2015 applies.

If your business provides a service or goods to consumers and you would like further information on updating your terms of business, policies or practices or whether you are a consumer and you have been provided with a poor service and would like advice, we can help.

Digital Content

Suppliers of digital content are defined as ‘traders’ under the Act. The definition includes any person acting in the trader's name or on the trader's behalf.

Under the Consumer Rights Act, digital content must be:

●  of satisfactory quality ( ie content description, the price paid and advertising);

●  fit for purpose; and

●  as described (ie system requirements and upgrades).

Remedies

●  repair (within 6 months);

●  replacement (within 6 months); and

●  price reduction if repair or replacement is unavailable.

If your business sells goods online and you would like further information on updating your terms of business, policies or practices or whether you are a consumer who has purchased digital content and the business has not provided you with adequate remedies, we can help.

Other remedies

The following remedies can be claimed either in addition to, or instead of the remedies above:

●  a claim for damages;

●  forcing the supplier to perform the contract;

● a full refund; or

● not to pay for the product.

It is important to note that a consumer can never recover the same loss twice and free content provided as promotions are not covered under the act as payment has not occurred. This can be free content that comes with magazines or part of the software purchased/ upgraded.

However, where the software purchased damages a consumer's devices, remedies available are:

●  repair to the device- within a reasonable time, without inconvenience or cost to the consumer

●  compensation for loss provided without undue delay

For further advice and assistance with regard to consumer law, whether it from a consumer or trader perspective contact our litigation team.

Brexit impact

On 23 June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU. The direct legal implications for consumer protection law are still unclear. On the one hand, most of the laws have been around for a number of years and accepted as being fair on the consumers and traders. On the other hand, UK ministers have the power to repeal the EU-derived consumer laws whether that be only parts of it or all of it.

At present, we do not trust that this area of Law is likely to be a priority following Brexit but watch this space for updates.