on your side

New Protection for Consumers

05th October 2015

The introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 on the 1st October 2015 heralded the arrival of new and improved consumer rights designed to be easy to understand for both consumers and businesses.

Previous legislation entitled purchasers to refunds for faulty goods for a ‘reasonable time’. The new rules entitle a consumer to a full refund for up to 30 days after the purchase of faulty goods. No longer can business argue about what is reasonable and what is not. Furthermore, businesses cannot insist in offering to repair faulty goods instead of issuing a refund.

For the first time consumer protection law now deals directly with ‘digital content’. There is now a specific right to the repair or replacement of faulty digital content such as games, music downloads and e-books.

The Act also covers the provision of services by tradesmen such as builders and plumbers. If the service is not provided with reasonable skill and care, or is not what was agreed, then you will be entitled to a refund.

The aim of the Act is to simplify consumer law so that both businesses and consumers understand their rights and obligations.

Consumer legislation is all very well. However, when it comes to actually enforcing your rights it is often a different story. The current small claims limit, the figure below which cases are dealt with in the Small Claims Court, is £10,000. This ceiling covers the vast majority of consumer claims. The impact of this is that if you chose to instruct a solicitor to represent you will be extremely unlikely to recover your costs of so doing even if you win. The Small Claims Court is designed to be used by non-lawyers but it is still seen by many as a daunting prospect. Add to this the fact that proposed court closures may lead to your case being heard many miles away (after you have grappled with the ‘on-line’ system for issuing your claim) and many people are likely to just give up.

The Act does go some way to addressing this by making ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ (ADR) available to all businesses to help when a dispute with a consumer cannot be settled. HOWEVER there is no obligation on a business to submit a dispute to ADR so ultimately if the business does not accept your complaint and will not submit to ADR you may well have no choice but to give up or start proceedings in the Small Claims Court

Ian Oliver. Partner, litigation department

Business, General, George Ide, News
Please recommend us if you liked this post: