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Paul Jonson, managing partner of Pannone Corporate, explores the remedies to be made available to consumers and how their rights will be enforced.
Consumer Rights Act 2015, LNB News 27/03/2015 144
The remedies are the main change being introduced by CRA 2015. Consumers will have ‘short cuts to compensation’, as it were. Currently, if goods are, say, of unsatisfactory quality, a consumer may reject them and ‘return’ them (the onus is on the business to collect them) provided he has not kept for them for an unreasonable length of time, which is a nebulous concept. CRA 2015 brings clarity and certainty for consumers.
If goods, a consumer has:
If services are supplied but not within a reasonable time, or at a reasonable charge or to a reasonable standard, depending on the problems, a consumer has:
The remedies for digital content are addressed below.
CRA 2015 applies to law firms as they are traders as defined in CRA 2015—they provide services and some of their clients, at least, may be consumers as defined under CRA 2015.
Yes—there is a clear timetable and procedure for the right to reject/repair or replacement/refund or price reduction. In terms of services supplied, there are new rights to have a service repeated or a price reduction. Consumers are further protected, as liability for the following will no longer be able to be excluded:
Ultimately via the courts as usual. Various public bodies can enforce consumer law and their powers range from criminal prosecutions to injunctions. The main ones are Trading Standards and the Consumer Markets Authority (previously the Office of Fair Trading). Enforcement orders compelling cessation of non- compliance with consumer law are obtained via the Enterprise Act 2002. This benefits consumers in general rather than compensating an individual consumer.
Ultimately, they enforce CRA 2015—but CRA 2015 is seeking to enable consumers to avoid this by setting out clear obligations on traders.
Does CRA 2015 have any cross-border implications?
CRA 2015 will apply to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are also specific rules which apply to Scotland only.
CRA 2015 applies to ‘digital content’, defined as data which are produced and supplied in digital form (as opposed to digital products per se). Digital content has to be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose and match its description. A consumer has the following remedies available depending on the problem with the digital content:
There is no right to reject and there is no way to return digital content.
If the data supplied damages a device or other digital content, the business must pay to the consumer the cost of replacing the device or digital content which is damaged. Those providing the service of delivering digital content, eg ISPs and or mobile phone providers, are not trading in digital content and are not caught.
CRA 2015 is expected to come into force in October 2015, with the exception of the provisions on secondary ticketing sales, which should come into force in May 2015.
There is no carve-out for lawyers. If their clients are consumers as defined, their clients can avail themselves of the remedies set out above.
If their clients are traders which supply to consumers, they need to advise their clients about the changes and the implication of the changes, particularly in relation to their clients’ customer complaints procedures.
Interviewed by Nicola Laver.
The views expressed by our Legal Analysis interviewees are not necessarily those of the proprietor.
First published on Lexis®PSL Commercial. Click here for a free one week trial of Lexis®PSL.
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