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Archive for the ‘Consumer Regulations’ Category

Consumer Rights – What Are Businesses Obliged To Do?

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Paul Trincas

Paul Trincas

Consumer law has changed with the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Paul Trincas, a litigation specialist with law firm, Charles Lucas & Marshall, explains why it is important businesses are aware of their responsibilities to consumers.

The purpose of the Consumer Rights Act is to provide consumers with enhanced and easier to understand rights – and to provide businesses with a clearer pathway as to what they are obliged to do, and what they are not obliged to do, should things go wrong.

The hope is that the updated rights contained in the Act will assist both businesses and consumers to better understand their rights and liabilities and help to avoid disagreements.

Here is a summary of the main rights and liabilities when defective goods are sold to consumers.

1) If a product is proven to be defective, then the consumer has the right, within 30 days of delivery, to reject the goods. This is known, under the Act, as the ‘short-term right to reject’ and the business is obliged to provide a refund.

2) Alternatively and running parallel to the short-term right to reject within 30 days, the consumer can elect, rather than to reject the goods, to have the goods ‘either repaired or replaced.’ The choice of repair or replacement is the consumer’s and the business will have to oblige. This is called the 1st tier remedy.

3) If however the consumer fails to reject the defective goods within 30 days, then the consumer still has the right to repair or replacement. If this right is exercised within six months, then the Act places a reverse burden of proof on the business in that if within six months the goods are found to be defective then it is ‘assumed’ that the goods were defective when sold, unless the business can prove otherwise.

4) If the goods cannot be repaired or the repairs carried out do not work or there is no replacement available, then the consumer has the ‘final right to reject’ the goods and demand a refund, or alternatively, can choose to seek a price reduction and keep the goods. This is known as the 2nd tier remedy.

5) The right to repair and replacement continues even after six months, but in this event, the consumer, in order to exercise this right, will then have the obligation and onus of proving that the goods were defective when delivered, which is not always an easy task to do.

For further information contact Paul Trincas on 01635 521212 or paul.trincas@clmlaw.co.uk

Written by Paul Trincas

June 24th, 2016 at 8:33 am

Update on Consumer Rights Law

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  • Sale of Goods Act 1979
  • Unfair Terms in Consumer Regulations 1999
  • Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

The aim of the new Act is to update all the previous legal rulings into one Act for customers to refer to if they run into trouble. These are the key changes:

  1. Terms and conditions have to be in clear English and in a form easily understood by consumers. Therefore, microscopic small print is banned. If certain conditions are hidden away or couched in impenetrable language, the business cannot rely on it if the product fails.
  2. Any attempt to limit liability needs to be carefully considered. Therefore traders cannot generally aim to exclude liability for unforeseeable losses such as indirect and consequential loss.
  3. Any rate used to calculate interest payable on late payments cannot be excessive. The rate to be used should be ideally set at base rate.
  4. Rules dealing with the provision of digital content have been introduced. Paper or digital content have not been addressed in the past. Paper or digital content must now be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose and as described.
  5. Consumers’ rights for any late deliveries have changed significantly as have the legal rights available for defective goods. Therefore if consumers buy an item which turns out to be faulty, the consumers generally get an automatic refund if it is returned within 30 days.

This is a brief overview of some of the key changes. Generally, companies who deal with consumers do now need to check their terms and conditions to ensure they are fully compliant.

For further information contact Rupert Wright on 01635 521212 or rupert.wright@clmlaw.co.uk

 

Written by Rupert Wright

December 1st, 2015 at 12:10 pm

New Consumer Contract Regulations – Do Your Business Practices Comply?

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Paul Trincas

Paul Trincas

The Consumer Contract Regulations came into force on 13 June 2014 and contain a number of pitfalls for unwary traders. Paul Trincas, a litigation specialist with Charles Lucas & Marshall, covers the headline points.

The Consumer Contract Regulations apply to all qualifying contracts made after the 13 June.
They supersede the Distance Selling Regulations and Doorstep Selling Regulations. They regulate ‘on-premises’, ‘off-premises’ contracts and distance selling. Distance selling includes online sales, telesales or sales via a catalogue but is outside the scope of this article.

Q – Will the Regulations apply to my business’ activities?

The Regulations cover contracts for the sale of goods, digital content and / or supply of services where the seller is a trader and the buyer a consumer. Most tradesmen and professional services providers will be caught. Exceptions do apply and these are worth checking.

Q – Why is it important to identify where the contract was made?

The Regulations distinguish between contracts made ‘on’ the trader’s business premises and contracts made elsewhere (e.g. a consumer’s home). Different rules apply to each type of contract. In practice, identifying whether a contract is on- or off-premises can prove difficult: for example, a contract concluded on the business premises of the trader after the consumer has been ‘personally and individually addressed’ by the trader elsewhere might be treated as an off-premises contract.

Q – What is the significance of the contract being ‘on-premises’?

The Regulations require the trader to (1) provide to the consumer certain pre-contract information; (2) seek express prior consent for additional payments; (3) deliver goods within 30 days unless otherwise agreed; and (4) charge the consumer no more than the basic rate for any telephone calls about the contract.

Q – What is the significance of the contract being ‘off-premises’?

The requirements detailed above still apply and in addition (1) the trader must provide the consumer with a copy of the contract; (2) in some cases, the consumer will have a right to cancel and must be told as much; (3) if applicable, the trader must not begin the service before the end of the cancellation period unless requested to do so.

Q – How does the right to cancel work?

The cancellation period begins either the day after the consumer has received the goods or (if a services contract), from the date on which the contract is entered into. The cancellation period ends after a period of 14 days from the date on which the consumer is given the pre-contract information (up to a period of 12 months from the last day of the ‘normal cancellation period’). A consumer can cancel by making an unequivocal statement to the trader to that effect. If the consumer cancels, no contract is formed and the consumer will be entitled to reimbursement of monies paid.

Q – Is there any way of overcoming the cancellation period?

In relation to services contracts, the consumer can make a written request that the services begin during the cancellation period. If the consumer has done so, he must pay for so much of the services as have been performed up to cancellation provided certain conditions are met. In practice, the trader is advised to provide the consumer with a carefully drafted ‘instructions to proceed’ form for completion.

Q – There appears to be a number of traps for the unwary trader!

Indeed there are! Failure to provide the consumer with the pre-contract information will mean that the trader is in breach of an implied term of the contract. In relation to off-premises service contracts, the consumer might escape payment altogether by exercising cancellation rights within 12 months of the normal cancellation period, despite the services having been provided. Failure to provide the pre-contract information in relation to off-premises contract is also a criminal offence.

For further information contact Paul Trincas on 01635 521212 or paul.trincas@clmlaw.co.uk

Written by Paul Trincas

October 21st, 2014 at 10:00 am