Changes to Consumer Law: Consumer Rights Act 2015

Summary

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the Act) which came into force on 1 October 2015 consolidates much of consumer law in the UK. It reforms:

  • The substantive law on rights and remedies for goods and services.
  • The substantive law on rights and remedies for digital content.
  • The substantive law on unfair terms.
  • The powers of enforcement authorities and new remedies imposed by such authorities on businesses.
  • Consumer collective actions for anti-competitive behaviour.

Key changes:

Rights and remedies for the supply of services

Rights:

The Act introduces the following terms:

  1. That the consumer must pay a reasonable price for the services; and
  2. That the business must perform the services within a reasonable time.

Remedies:

The Act introduces the remedies of repeat performance and price reduction where the service does not conform to the contract. The remedies that are available will be dependent on the nature of the breach. The table below sets out the circumstances in which each remedy may be available:

Breach

Remedy

Failure to provide services with ‘reasonable care and skill’

 

Repeat performance

Failure to comply with information that they have provided to the consumer about the service

Failure to provide services within a reasonable time

 

Price reduction

 

Failure to comply with information that they have provided to the consumer that does not relate to the service

 

Rights and remedies for the supply of goods

The Act introduces implied terms regarding the pre-contract information required under the Consumer Contracts Regulations and a requirement that goods must match a model seen/examined by a consumer, other than where differences have been brought to the consumer’s attention pre-contract.

Remedies

  • Consumers have a new 30 day right to reject goods if they are faulty.
  • After 30 days the consumer can request that the goods are either repaired or replaced.
  • If this first request for goods to either be repaired or replaced is unsuccessful consumers have the right to reject the goods or to seek a price reduction.

Unfair terms in consumer contracts

The Act has the effect of merging the rules in the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 (UCTA) with the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (UTCCR). The fairness test is extended to consumer notices.

The key provisions are as follows:

  1. The terms applicable to goods and services in the SGA and SGSA are restated;
  2. Suppliers remain unable to restrict liability to consumers for breach of the statutory ‘implied’ terms;
  3. The UTCCR fairness test replaces the UCTA reasonableness test;
  4. UCTA will be amended so that it no longer applies to consumers.

Digital content

With the rise in increasing digital content being purchased, the Act brings the law in this area up to date. It introduces specific rules entitling shoppers to a repair or replacement when digital products are faulty.

Anti-competitive behaviour

The Act will introduce enhanced rights for consumers seeking redress for UK or EU competition law infringements. The Act seeks to improve the efficacy of the existing ‘opt-in’ provisions for class actions, and also proposes a new ‘opt-out’ regime more akin to the US class action system, where a claim is pursued on behalf of a specified class of unnamed claimants, who are deemed included in the action unless they have specifically chosen not to be involved.