The Consumer Rights Act 2015

18th January 2016 | Written by Michelle Hearne

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is an eagerly awaited piece of legislation which came into force for contracts entered into on or after the 1st October 2015.  The Act replaces the Sales of Goods Act 1979, Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 and Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and makes substantial changes to the statutory regulation of exemption clauses and unfair terms.

The Act preserves the general provisions of the Sales of Goods Act 1979; for example that a consumer is entitled to receive goods that are of satisfactory quality and fit for the purpose they were intended.  I will not mention all the provisions here but it is worth reviewing all the provisions and remedies in the event that there is a breach of a contractual or implied term of the contract.

What is of interest is that the Act does introduce two new areas of law; digital content and second hand goods which brings the legislation up to date with consumer trends.

Before addressing these two areas it is worth mentioning that the Act has brought clearer guidance on the right to reject should there be a breach of a fundamental term of the contract.

There is now the short term right to reject.  The consumer has 30 days from the day after ownership or possession has transferred, the goods have been delivered or the consumer has been notified that installation has been carried out by the seller to reject the goods.

The consumer can agree a longer term to reject but not a shorter one, and of course there will be a shorter time limit if the goods are likely to perish in less than the 30 day period.  If the trader requests or it is agreed that they would repair or replace the goods then the short term rejection period is suspended for the waiting period.  The waiting period starts on the day the repair or replacement is requested or agreed and ends the day the consumer receives the goods from the trader responding to the request/agreement.  The time-limit is 7 days after the end of the waiting period or if later, the original time limit plus the waiting period.

And so turning back to digital content and second hand goods.

Digital Content

The Act defines content as “data which is produced and supplied in digital form”.  Just like goods, digital content must be of satisfactory quality, be fit for a particular purpose and match the description supplied by the seller.

If the digital content does not conform then the consumer has the right to repair or replacement of the digital content purchased.  But if the repair or replacement doesn’t fix the situation then the consumer can ask for a price reduction which can be up to 100% of the cost of the digital content.  This applies where that damage would not have occurred had reasonable care and skill been exercised in the provision of the digital content – even if that content was free of charge i.e an app was provided free with a magazine which the consumer brought.

And so the digital content is covered if it has been paid for i.e with money, gift card or credits.

Second hand goods

The Act now provides that when buying second hand goods through a retailer or online from an Ebay trader the consumer has the same rights as if purchasing the goods as new.  And so the item must be of satisfactory quality, based upon what a reasonable person may expect, taking into account price, and must be fit for purpose.  The goods must meet the expectations of the consumer, bearing in mind though, that the item is second hand and so reasonable wear and tear should be expected.  If it does not or the item is faulty then the consumer can demand a refund and the 30 day right to reject applies.

If the consumer is buying from a private seller the goods sold just have to be as described, i.e. if you are buying a second hand black jacket and the private seller tells you it is black and it turns out to be black with a stain down the front then they have misrepresented the item and you can ask for a refund or replacement.

A second hand retailer is under no legal obligation to refund or even agree to the return of the item just because the consumer has changed their mind.

Should you require further information or assistance please contact Francis Wallace in our Dispute Resolution team at our Brighton & Hove office on 01825 744421 or email franciswallace@rixandkay.co.uk.