Crab Alert – Consumer Law

From 1st October 2015 the Consumer Rights Act 2015 replaced much of the existing UK law relating to consumer sales and unfair contract terms.

The Major Changes

  • What happens when goods are faulty
  • Unfair terms in a contract
  • What happens when a business is acting in a way which isn’t competitive
  • Written notice for routine inspections to be given by public enforcers, such as Trading Standards
  • A greater flexibility for public enforcers to respond to breaches of consumer law, eg seeking redress for consumers who have suffered harm

New Areas

  • When digital content (eg online films, games, e-books) is faulty the act gives consumers a clear right to repair or replacement
  • Services should match up to what has been agreed, and what should happen when they do not or when they are not provided with reasonable care and skill (eg giving some money back if it is not practical to bring the service into line with what was agreed)

This Act together with the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (which amend the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008) set out the basic rules which govern how consumers and businesses buy and sell in the UK.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 also came into force on the 1st October 2015.

This implements the ‘ADR Directive’, which intends to promote ADR as a means of redress for consumers in relation to unsatisfactory goods or services, particularly for online sales in the EU.

Unless it is compulsory for you to use ADR by law, by scheme membership or by contract, you don’t have to agree to use it for a consumer dispute, but you do need to provide certain information about ADR to consumers.

If you have reached the end of your internal complaint-handling procedure and not been able to resolve a consumer complaint you need to give the consumer, in a ‘durable medium’ (eg a letter or email);

  • a statement that you cannot settle the complaint with the consumer
  • the name and website address of an ADR provider that could deal with the complaint
  • if the consumer wishes to use ADR whether you are obliged or prepared to submit to an ADR procedure operated by that provider

In addition, where you are subject to compulsory ADR either by law or through the membership of a trade association, you must provide the name and website address of the ADR provider or scheme on your website and as part of their general contract terms.

From 9th January 2016, you will need to give information to consumers about the online dispute resolution platform being established by the European Commission.

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