Two new EU Directives, the Sales of Goods Directive (2019/771) (SGD) and Digital Content and Services Directive (2019/770) (DCSD) are coming into effect for businesses selling goods or digital content or services, as applicable, to consumers within the EU market. The SGD and DCSD apply to contracts concluded after 01 January 2022.

Due to the impact of Brexit, these new Directives will not have legislative effect in the UK for sales by UK businesses to UK consumers but UK traders selling to consumers in EU markets will have to comply with the Directives, as adopted in the applicable member states’ national law. It is not possible to contract out of this with consumers in those markets by reference to English law in your terms of trading.

The new rules under the Directive relate to areas such as: conformity of goods with the contract to which they relate; public statements made by the trader related to the goods; the supply of updates for digital content and services; duration of time within which the trader will be liable for non-conformity of goods and the burden of proof regarding the same; and consumer remedies regarding repair, replacement and / or reduction in price.

Many of the areas covered by the Directives are currently governed in the UK by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA), in similar but not identical terms, and the CRA will continue to apply to sales of such goods to UK consumers. The main differences between the application of the CRA and the new Directives is summarised as follows: