UK: Consumer Rights Bill

Introduction

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
legislation.

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 Mondaq.com.

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

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
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
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions