An overhaul in consumer rights law is expected to take place later on this year with the introduction of a Consumer Rights Bill. The new laws, due to be implemented in October 2015, will govern all contracts entered into between traders and consumers and will replace the highly established provisions set out in the Sale of Goods Act 1979.
This news is not a cause for alarm however as the Consumer Rights Bill will in fact oversee an evolution of consumer law appropriate for the modern ‘digital’ age. The clearest indication of this is the provision for digital content which, for the first time, will be given equivalent protection to physical goods.
The primary consumer laws set out in the Sale of Goods Act 1979 will still exist. For example, in a sale by a business to a consumer, the goods must still be of satisfactory quality. Likewise, the goods sold must be fit for their common purpose, or for any particular purpose which the buyer makes clear to the seller in the course of the sale. Furthermore, the goods sold must comply with their description, and this provides the consumer with a right to refusal if the condition is not met.
Key consumer rights in relation to description, satisfactory quality and fitness for purpose will therefore still exist in business to consumer transactions for the sale of goods. But new laws have also been proposed to improve the rights of the consumer in the digital age. For example, new laws will be implemented for the disclosure of certain pre-contractual information as well as rules that the goods must match any model seen or examined by the consumer. Also, where the agreement provides for installation, the agreement will not be legally binding until the goods are installed correctly.
There are also additional rules relating to the delivery of the goods. Where a delivery period has not yet been agreed, the goods must be delivered without undue delay, and in any event within 30 days from the date the contract was entered into. The seller also retains the risk of the goods until physical possession passes to the consumer. These rules are particularly relevant to internet transactions and subsequently represent a clear development in the rights of the consumer.
For more information on the proposed Consumer Rights Bill, contact us on 01536 276300. If you have purchased goods from a business which you believe to be of unsatisfactory quality, you may be entitled to a remedy. Feel free to give us a call and have a chat with one of our experienced legal professionals for clear, easy to understand legal advice.