The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (DJEI) has published a Consultation Paper on proposed legislation to consolidate and update the law in Ireland on consumer contract rights.  The DJEI's view, as set out in the consultation paper, is that while consumer legislation gives consumers effective protections in many areas, it is deficient and disjointed in a number of important respects, among them:

  • The rights and remedies of consumers in respect of the quality and other aspects of goods that they purchase are regulated by two separate and not always consistent sets of statutory provisions – the Sale of Goods Acts 1893 and 1980 and the European Union (Certain Aspects of the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees) Regulations 2003 – while the rights of consumers in respect of the quality and other aspects of goods supplied under hire purchase and hire agreements are regulated by separate rules in the Consumer Credit Act 1995.
  • The statutory rules on the supply of services are silent on key issues such as the remedies for services supplied in breach of these rules. While digital content supplied in tangible form is subject to the rights and remedies in the Sale of Goods Acts, digital content supplied – as is now mainly the case – in intangible form through downloads, streaming or other means is not subject to similar statutory regulation.

The consultation paper states that the deficiencies of the current legislative regime for consumer contract rights were analysed in detail in the final report of the Sales Law Review Group. The Group recommended the enactment of a comprehensive Consumer Rights Act that would bring together in an accessible way the main statutory provisions applicable to consumer contract rights. The main features of the proposed legislation, and the specific issues on which views are sought, are set out in subsequent parts of the Consultation Paper as follows: 

  • Part II deals with the objectives and scope of the proposed legislation;
  • Part III deals with consumer rights and remedies in contracts for the sale of goods;
  • Part IV deals with consumer rights and remedies in non-sale contracts for the supply of goods;
  • Part V deals with consumer rights and remedies in contracts for the supply of digital content;
  • Part VI deals with consumer rights and remedies in contracts for the supply of services;
  • Part VII deals with unfair terms and exclusion clauses in consumer contracts, whether sales digital content or service contracts;

The DJEI states that whilst it is committed to introducing a Consumer Rights Bill along the lines outlined in the Paper, the specific aspects of the legislative proposals on which views are sought are subject to review in the light of the responses.

Responses to the consultation should be sent by Monday 20 October by e-mail to conspol@djei.ie or by post to Competition and Consumer Policy Section, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Earlsfort Centre, Lower Hatch Street, Dublin 2.