UK: Consumer Rights Bill


The draft Consumer Rights Bill was published on 12 June 2013 and will represent a major overhaul of consumer protection law in the UK. The Bill seeks to consolidate important parts of consumer law, make it more user friendly and robust and bring it up to date to account for the digital age. The new law will have an impact on all business to consumer ("B2C") businesses, including businesses that provide goods, services, digital content or any combination and whether provided online or through bricks & mortar stores. It is important that
businesses are aware of the proposed changes and start to think about reviewing their standard terms and consumer policies.

Brief highlights of the Consumers Rights Bill

The Bill is split into three main sections, covering (1) consumer contracts for goods, services and digital; (2) control of unfair contract terms in consumer contracts; and (3) clarification and strengthening of enforcement powers.

1. Consumer contracts for goods, services and digital

  • Digital content – Arguably the most significant change brought about by the Bill is that it introduces, for the first time, specific consumer rights in respect of "digital content". This is defined broadly to include any data that is produced and supplied in digital form and would cover digital content supplied online (e.g. software, content downloads, apps and in-app purchases), as well as digital content on a physical medium (e.g. software on a computer or disk or a film on a DVD).
  • Rights and remedies for digital content – The Bill provides that digital content must satisfy a certain standard similar to physical goods – it must be of r e e d s m i t h . c o m Client Alert 13-204 July 2013 satisfactory quality, fit for its purpose and as described. The provider is also deemed to warrant that it has the necessary rights to provide the content. A consumer will have the right to repair, replacement, price reduction or refund and will also have a right to compensation where content causes damage to a device or other content of the consumer (e.g. by introducing a virus).
  • Supply of Goods – The new law will consolidate most of the B2C provisions in the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended). The Bill therefore restates a lot of the current law on implied terms as to quality. In terms of new rights, it gives mandatory contractual force to any pre-contractual information about the characteristics of the goods. It also introduces a new tiered remedy for consumers, which includes an early right to reject goods (within 30 days) as well as a final right to reject. The final right to reject will apply if the supplier fails to repair or replace the goods after just one opportunity to do so. As an alternative to this right to reject, the consumer may elect for a price reduction in certain circumstances.
  • Supply of Services – The new law will consolidate most of the B2C provisions in the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (as amended). The Bill therefore restates a lot of the current law on implied terms as to standards of performance. In terms of new rights, as with the supply of goods, contractual force is given to any pre-contractual information about the service which the consumer takes into account in deciding to enter the contract. The consumer's remedies include the right to ask for repeat performance or if that is not possible or is not done properly or on time, then a right to a reduction in price of an appropriate amount.

2. Unfair Contract Terms

The Bill considerably strengthens consumer rights in relation to unfair terms. The B2C provisions in the current Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 will be consolidated in the new

The test for an "unfair" term will stay the same, being one which "causes a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer". In addition to non-core terms (terms other than price or subject matter), the test is extended to apply to consumer notices (whether or not in writing). Core terms on price or subject matter will only be exempt from the fairness test if they are presented in a transparent and prominent manner. The current provisions on terms having to be in plain and intelligible language are further boosted by an obligation on the supplier to bring particularly onerous terms to the consumer's attention. The grey list of clauses that are
deemed to be unfair has also been revised and expanded.

3. Enforcement powers

The Bill introduces a number of changes to consolidate and improve powers of enforcement, which are to rest with bodies including the Competition and Markets Authority ("CMA") (launching on 1 October 2013) and the Trading Standards. Current investigatory powers will be strengthened together with improved rights for applying for injunctions and court orders.

Enforcers will be able to attach a range of "enhanced consumer measures" to enforcement orders or undertakings. These include compensation, termination rights, compliance measures, and measures such as requiring a supplier to sign up to an established customer review site.

The provisions also improve some of the safeguards to protect businesses, such as a requirement for enforcers to give at least two business days' written notice to enter premises. Timetable for implementation The Bill is currently at consultation stage and businesses have until 19 August 2013 to submit evidence to Parliament and until 13 September 2013 for comments to the Government. Beyond this date, there is no firm timetable for the Bill's process through Parliament or the ultimate date on which the new provisions will become effective. However, the Bill does implement a limited number of provisions of the EU's Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/
EU) (the "CRD"), which has an implementation deadline of 14 June 2014. The CRD also requires a number of important changes to the law on distance selling and these changes are not included in the Bill, but are being separately implemented – a separate client bulletin is available on the CRD.

We are closely monitoring the Bill and will provide updates of its passage through Parliament, including any material changes to its provisions. If you have any questions or need any further information, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.