The Government have published a draft Consumer Rights Bill (the "Bill") which aims to reform Irish consumer law and streamline current statutory provisions in this area. The Bill is focused on transactions between traders and consumers. Though the Bill covers wide remit of consumer rights in relation to the supply of goods and services, it is interesting to note that it specifically addresses consumer rights in respect of digital content, extending the existing provisions as introduced pursuant to the European Consumer Rights Directive of 2011.

Historically, legislators and courts have struggled with the approach to digital content and whether it should be classified as a good or as a service and which corresponding rights consumers should be entitled to. The Bill cuts through this difficulty and sets out distinct rights for consumers in respect of digital content. Digital content under the Bill, covers data produced and supplied in digital form, including computer programs, applications, games, music, videos or texts accessed through downloads, streaming or other electronic means. Digital content supplied in a tangible form, however, will be classified as a good, with the corresponding consumer rights.

For digital content supplied in an intangible form, the following are some of the proposed standards that digital content must meet under the Bill:

  • conform to the contract when supplied and/or for the duration of fixed period contracts;
  • be as described and of satisfactory quality;
  • match the trial version; and
  • be fit for purpose and supplied without undue delay.

Updates can be made where the trader has set out in the contract that updates might be made available and where updates do not compromise the above standards for the supply of digital content. Consumers have various remedies available to them including repair, replacement, price reduction, refund and termination of contract, depending on how the trader has failed to meet its obligations under the Bill.

The Bill is available for review on the website of the Department for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation. Interested parties are invited to comment on the Bill up to 27 August 2015.