At the time of initiation of what is now the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation indicated that a Consumer Rights Bill (the “Bill”) would be brought forward in 2015 to incorporate the European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013. The proposed legislation will be the most important reform in this area of consumer law in recent decades.

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (the “Department”) has now commenced a public consultation on the main elements of the proposed legislation.

The key areas to be covered by the proposed legislation will include:

  • consumer rights and remedies in contracts for the sale of goods;
  • consumer rights and remedies in non-sale contracts for the supply of goods;
  • consumer rights and remedies in contracts for the supply of digital content;
  • consumer rights and remedies in contracts for the supply of services; and
  • unfair terms in consumer contracts.

The Bill will deal with transactions between consumers and traders, and will not regulate either transactions between consumers or those between traders.

The main focus of the Bill will, first, be on the rights of consumers, and the corresponding obligations of traders, in respect of the quality and other attributes of goods, services and digital content. It will deal, secondly, with the remedies available to consumers when these rights are contravened. The legislation will, thirdly, incorporate the statutory provisions regulating the fairness or otherwise of the terms of consumer contracts. The current legislative provisions in these areas are spread across a number of different Acts and statutory instruments, and their consolidation in a single enactment in the interests of regulatory simplification is a core objective of the proposed legislation.

The second focus of the Bill is to address the clear gaps in the protections afforded consumers by existing legislation. The Department will seek to ensure that the provisions of the provisions of the proposed legislation will, as far as possible, be clear, coherent, proportionate, and effective.

Submissions on the proposals are invited no later than 20 October 2014.