A massive change

Towards the end of March 2015 theConsumer Rights Act 2015 received Royal Assent. This legislation – which is a massive shake up to existing UK consumer laws – is due to come into force on 1 October 2015 . When it does, nearly every business that sells goods and/or supplies services to consumers will be affected. The Act itself is over 150 pages long, so we can’t cover allthe changes here. However, it’s imperative that your business starts preparing for this major change now – don’t leave it to the last minute.

Goodbye old friends

The Act consolidates and will replace much of the UK’s existing legislation relating tothe sale of goods and the supply of goods and services to consumers, including theSale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 . Although the spirit of those laws is to be retained, consumers will be given far greater rights, particularly with regards to faulty goods and services that are of an unacceptable or unsatisfactory quality.

Customer rights

In relation to goods supplied, consumers will have new and enhanced rights of rejection. This includes the short-term right to reject outright any non-perishable goods that are faulty, or not as described, within 30 days and a final right to reject (or have a price reduction) on any goods supplied after one unsuccessful repair or replacement.The onus will be on the consumer to prove that an item was faulty.

Supply of services

The Act also makes various changes to consumer rights relating to the supply of services, including giving a specific right of “repeat performance” where a service is not performed with reasonable care and skill, or if it doesn’t conform to the pre-contractual statements made by the trader. In addition, the consumer may have the right to request a price reduction.

Tip. Under the Act, any pre-contractual information supplied by the trader is an implied term of the contract. So that means all of your pre-sales literature must be up to date and accurate at all times. If it isn’t, you could end up with a claim for compensation from a consumer.

Huge learning curve

Although the government claims that the Act simplifies consumer laws, it will have a huge impact on business.

Tip 1. In anticipation of this change a new Business Companion advice website has been created that sets out the changes in detail (see The next step ). Select your location from the drop-down box at the top (there are differences between England, Wales and Scotland). If, having digested the information there, you remain unsure of your obligations, seek specialist advice.

Tip 2. If your business only ever deals with other businesses, the Act won’t affect you as business customers are not classed as consumers.

Reproduced with the permission of Indicator – FL Memo Limited. For subscription information call 01233 653500