The Consumer Rights Act 2015 – what you need to know

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 will make a number of important changes to the rights and responsibilities of British business owners. The new legislation replaces several previous regulations and brings all consumer contract law together in one place. For most companies, the Act comes into force from 1 October 2015, so if you’re a SME business owner, it’s a good idea for you and your staff to familiarise yourself with the new rules now.

This article sets out some of the key points you’ll need to comply with and explains where you can find more in-depth information and resources, including a free seminar at the University of Nottingham in July 2015.

Note that nothing in the new legislation impacts upon the consumers’ right of cancellation, which are referred to in my earlier blog post here.

Marketing materials

One of the major implications of the Consumer Rights Act is that it will become easier for the contents of your marketing materials to be incorporated into the actual contracts you make with your customers. For this reason, it’s important to check all your marketing literature and website content carefully to make sure everything is factually correct and up to date, and that you’re not making any claims about your products and services that can’t be substantiated.

Digital content

For the first time, consumers will have specific rights for digital content that they purchase, such as computer software, online films and smart phone apps. So, if your company produces and supplies any digital content to your clients, you’ll want to read the new legislation very carefully. You’ll find full details here.

Faulty goods

The Consumer Rights Act clarifies the time periods and processes for rejecting, repairing and replacing faulty goods, and when consumers can request a refund. The legislation also covers the supply of services where consumers feel they haven’t received what was promised to them. This part of the Act replaces the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.

The new rules for faulty goods can be summarised as follows:

  • Consumers have a right to reject goods within 30 days of supply (less for perishable items such as food) if they’re faulty, and to request a refund. However, the onus is on the customer to prove there’s a fault.
  • You can offer to repair the goods instead of giving a refund. If the consumer accepts this, then the ‘clock is stopped’ on the 30 day period. The clock then starts again when the consumer receives the repaired item and they then have the rest of the 30 day time period (or 7 days if this is longer) to ascertain if the repaired item is still faulty.
  • If there’s still a problem, the consumer can reject the goods and claim a refund or replacement. Alternatively, the consumer can agree to keep the faulty item but at a reduced price, in which case you would agree (at least) a partial refund. You could offer to make a second repair instead, but the consumer doesn’t have to accept this offer – and if they do, they may lose their right to reject the item and have to accept a further repair or replacement instead.

Another key point to note is that if an item becomes faulty within six months of supply, in most cases it will be presumed to have been faulty at the time of purchase – and it will be up to you, the supplier, to prove otherwise!

You can read more about this aspect of the Consumer Rights Act by following these links:

The Business Companion website has also published online guides about other key areas of the new law which may also be of interest, including unfair contract terms and trading standards visits and inspections. You can access the guides from this article on their website.

Free seminar at the University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham’s School of Law is hosting a free half day seminar to help SMEs in the East Midlands to prepare their companies for the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The seminar will be run by Richard Hyde, a consumer law specialist and Assistant Professor in the School of Law.

The event details are as follows:

Date:               Tuesday 21 July 2015
Time:               9:15am to 2pm (free networking lunch included)
Venue:            The Sir Colin Campbell Building, Jubilee Campus, The University of Nottingham, NG7 2TU.

You can find out more, check if your business is eligible to attend and book your place online here.