In the final stage in a major overhaul of consumer law which has taken place over the last few years, most provisions of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 come into force on 1 October 2015. There will be major changes across a range of areas, including the following:
- The information traders must give consumers at the pre-contract stage becomes legally binding.
- Goods must conform with any model that the consumer has inspected.
- There is a new short-term right to reject non-conforming goods within 30 days.
- If a consumer opts to have goods repaired or replaced, the trader only has one chance to do this before the consumer can reject the goods.
- There is an entirely new regime of consumer rights in respect of digital content.
- The status of mixed contracts for digital content and goods is clarified.
- Terms in consumer notices, as well as consumer contracts, must not be unfair.
- There are additions to the ‘grey list’ of potentially unfair terms.
- New rights for private enforcers.
- Significant changes to the regime for collective actions on behalf of consumers for breaches of competition law.
- New remedies, including a statutory right to price reduction for non-conforming goods, services or digital content.
Provisions relating to consumer transport services, including rail, air, sea and inland waterway, will come into force from 1 April 2016.
Businesses should make sure they are prepared for this major shift in consumer law. Standard contract terms and conditions are unlikely to comply with the CRA without changes, and customer service staff will need to be trained on consumers’ new rights. The new private enforcers – currently Which?, though more may be added – will no doubt be alert to, and looking to make an example of, traders breaching the Act.