The 1st October 2015 marks the implementation of the new Consumer Rights Act 2015,
which contains some long awaited wholesale reforms in the UK.
Many of the changes are variations on the rights that already exist in the Sale of Goods Act,
but there are a couple of bigger changes that are worthy of note.
Firstly, the new Act introduces specific legislation in respect of digital content. This will have
an impact on a number of industries, including the music industry for MP3 downloads, the
book industry for e-books and the video game industry for electronically downloaded
games. The new law states that if a fault develops or is discovered within 30 days of the
purchase of the product then the consumer is entitled a replacement, which, if is still not
satisfactory can lead to a refund. This is different from the previous position that stated that
the consumer must revert with the issue within a reasonable time. There are also different
rules which will apply dependant upon where the contract is taken out, such as on the
internet, place of trade or off side. The 30 day time limit applies to other non-digital goods
as well, but there is a fundamental difference.
Secondly, the Act provides for new Dispute Resolution providers to act as a cheaper and
faster alternative to Courts which can be used in some circumstances. Given that Court
proceedings can take months and cost thousands of pounds, this new route will probably be
preferable to most consumers given the expediency and cost.
Figures from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) show that up in 12
months up until the middle of last year, consumers had been left £4.15bn out of pocket,
with over 18 million problems with their goods and services. Therefore the Consumer Rights
Act has been welcomed as a move towards a more consumer friendly focus which brings
Consumer Law into the 21st century. This is a seismic shift from the arguably draconian Sale
of Goods Act.
From hereon in, it will be easier for consumers to understand their legal rights, and in turn
this should help boost consumer confidence. However, given that the Sale of Goods Act has
been in force for over 35 years, consumers will have to be wary that some businesses may
take time to adapt and treat their customers fairly.
If you think you have been treated unfairly as a consumer, or you are a business in need of
advice in respect of the new Act, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 834 6721.