Plans will give stronger protection to customers with cause to complain

The Consumer Rights Bill is currently making its way through parliament. It draws together and redesigns consumer law to make it easier to understand, and its arrival will streamline eight existing pieces of legislation. Rights and remedies relating to goods and services, digital content, unfair contract terms and new rules on enforcement are where the bill will introduce changes.

New rights for customers

The bill has beefed up and restated the law relating to goods and services. It introduces a period of 30 days in which consumers can return goods and ensures that traders cannot reduce the refund available if goods are returned within the first six months. It highlights that the risks associated with delivery of goods remain with the trader until the consumer physically possesses them and clarifies that consumers only have to accept one repair or replacement before being entitled to some degree of refund.

With respect to services, a ban is introduced on excluding statutory rights; there is a requirement that the services must comply with information describing them that is provided anywhere by the trader, not just in the contract and an immediate refund must be offered if services are not provided in a reasonable time.

New statutory rights will also require that any digital content that has been paid for or provided free with content that was paid for, must be of satisfactory quality, be fit for a particular purpose and must match the description provided.

A right of repair or replacement is the remedy if these statutory rights are not met, and if that cannot be provided then a refund must be offered.

The measures are still in draft form in the bill, but represent a step towards more relevant consumer protection.

Andrew Leakey is the managing partner of the dispute resolution department at Stephensons Solicitors LLP.

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