What is a consumer?

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Published on LexisPSL on 23/03/2017

The following Commercial Q&A provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • What is a consumer?
  • EU law
  • UK law
  • Other relevant definitions

Based on the standard dictionary definition, a ‘consumer’ is a person who purchases goods and services for personal use. However in a legal environment depending on legislative instrument where it is used, this definition may differ and sometimes the changes between particular pieces of legislation are quite subtle. Therefore it is important to check the relevant law or regulation, such as the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015) in the UK for the respective definition.

EU law

There is no consistent and uniform definition of consumer in EU law and there are also variances among the Member States, partly as a result of transposing EU directives into national legislation. In the current EU consumer acquis each EU instrument defines the notion of consumer separately for its own purposes. Those definitions essentially converge but some differences do exist.

Under the most recent framework, Directive 2011/83/EU, the Consumer Rights Directive, a consumer should be any natural persons who are acting outside their trade, business, craft or profession. The definition is therefore a negative one. However, in the case of dual purpose contracts where the contract is concluded for purposes partly within and partly outside the person’s trade and the trade purpose is so limited as not to be predominant in the overall context of the contract, that person should also be considered as a consumer. The directives also diverge in the

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