Consumer Rights Act 2015 – What is new for Consumers?
The changes of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 explained by trainee solicitor, Georgina Went.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (“the Act”) received royal assent on 26 March 2015 and came into force on 1 October 2015. The Act replaces a number of laws with regard to business consumer transactions including the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (“SGA”) and Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (“SGSA”). This Act serves as a consolidating Act but it has also introduced some significant changes to consumer law and these changes will be the focus point of this article.
It has been noted that this Act is clearer than any previous legislation and it makes business to consumer transactions easier to understand. The clarity within this Act gives confidence to consumers when buying goods and it also means businesses can sell with greater assurance about their rights. This Act makes it clear exactly what the remedies are to consumers if a good or digital content is faulty, or when services are not provided with reasonable care and skill.
Section 2(3) of the Act defines a ‘consumer’ as an ‘individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual’s trade, business, craft, or profession. An important note is that the scope of this Act does not include small businesses. Therefore, small businesses will have to look to existing legislation to find protection when purchasing goods or services.
There are three parts to the Act, Part 1 which deals with consumer contracts for goods, digital content, and services. Part 2 deals with unfair terms and Part 3 contains miscellaneous provisions, including enforcement powers. This article will be looking at the changes which have been made by Part 1 of the Act.
Consumers rights in contracts for goods and services outlined in Part 1 of this Act will be familiar to many as they are mainly drawn from the SGA and SGSA. Section 9 of the Act requires goods to be of a satisfactory quality, Section 10 of the Act requires a good to be fit for a particular purpose and Section 11 of the Act requires a good to be as described. These three requirements largely follow the requirements already set out in SGA and SGSA.
The most significant change has been the inclusivity of digital content within this Act. The Act includes a chapter relating to digital content which previously was not considered a ‘good’. Formerly, you could download a song from the internet which was not considered a good but if you bought the same song in the form of a CD then it would be considered a good. The majority of individuals buying music these days are using digital content rather than CD’s. This shows that this Act has grown with us in our fast growing digital world.
This Act has altered the remedies which are available to consumer when they are given faulty goods. Section 22 of the Act gives consumers a fixed time of 30 days in which they can reject faulty goods. This is named the ‘short-term right to reject’ and it is the first time a specific timeframe has been set in which you can reject a faulty item and get a full refund.
Section 20 to 24 of the Act creates several other remedies which are laid out in a tiered system. This tiered system is in place for faulty goods, digital content and services. This system ensures that consumer rights are set out very clearly and cannot be mistaken. It outlines that if a consumer does not reject their faulty good within the first 30 days then they are still able to require the goods to be repaired or replaced. If they opt for this remedy and the good still remains unsatisfactory, the consumer is then entitled to a higher right of remedy which is a price reduction or a refund. This is the consumer’s ‘final right to reject’ outlined in Section 24 of the Act. If a consumer does not want a refund or price reduction, they have the right to request another repair or replacement at no extra cost to them.
Additionally, Section 19(9) of the Act states that the statutory remedies which I have outlined above do not prevent the consumer from seeking remedies for a breach of the consumer-business contract.
Deductions cannot be taken from refunds within the first six months of the consumer owning the product, unless it is a motor vehicle. After six months, reasonable deductions can be taken in order to take into account the consumer’s use of a product.
This Act has surprised many who believed it to simply be a consolidating act. It creates the well needed transparency which consumer law has been craving.