From 1 October 2015, the new Consumer Rights Act 2015 (Act) will change the rules relating to the supply of goods, services and digital content for contracts made from that date. The Act reforms and consolidates much of consumer law in the UK and is the most extensive change in consumer law in the UK in decades.

The existing framework of consumer law in the UK is set out in over 100 separate pieces of legislation. This has meant that there are a number of inconsistent provisions which has left many consumers confused as to their rights. The aim of the Act is to amalgamate much of this legislation in a single piece of new legislation.

The Act only applies to contracts between businesses and consumers. Contracts between businesses will remain subject to the existing legislation. Existing implied terms, such as the requirement that goods are of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose, are replicated in the Act.

The Act is split into three parts. Part 1 of the Act deals with consumer contracts for the sale of good, services and digital content to consumers; Part 2 deals with unfair terms in consumer contracts; and Part 3 deals contains various miscellaneous provisions.

The new rules in Part 1 include:

(a) a new 30 day right to reject faulty goods and obtain a full refund;
(b) the ability to require the business to repeat a service that was not provided with reasonable care and skill, or that failed to comply with the information provided to the consumer;
(c) a new category of sales contract for digital content;
(d) spoken or written voluntary statements by the trader can now be deemed to be binding contractual terms when the consumer has taken these into account when deciding to enter into the contract and/or make any decision about the service after entering into the contract. This gives the consumer the ability to make a claim for damages for breach of contract, rather than for misrepresentation. This is significant as claims for breach of contract are generally easier to prove

The new rules in Part 2 include:

(a) a requirement for terms to be transparent and prominent. The existing law only includes the transparency requirement. This extended obligation means that businesses need to take greater care in ensuring that relevant terms are clearly brought to a consumer’s attention;
(b) an extension to the number of terms on the “grey-list” – this is a non-exhaustive list of terms in consumer contracts which may be regarding as being unfair.

The Act is expected to come into force on 1st October 2015. By that date, businesses selling to consumers will need to revise their terms and conditions in order to ensure that they are compliant with the Act. To speak to one of our commercial solicitors about having your terms and conditions reviewed to ensure you are compliant with the Act, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0845 050 1958. Alternatively please complete an online enquiry form.