Consumer Rights Act 2015


Author: Eddie Powell


The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (Act) has now received Royal Assent, bringing about an overhaul in the law regarding the sale and supply of goods, services and digital content and the law on unfair contract terms.

The Act clarifies and consolidates previous legislation, attempting to make it easier for traders and consumers alike to observe and understand. Businesses will need to have made changes by 1 October 2015 to comply with the legislation. Some key developments which will affect retailers are:

Right to reject

  • If goods are faulty, a consumer can, within 30 days, reject the goods, claim a full refund and treat the contract as at an end, releasing them from their obligation.
  • A consumer may also request a replacement or repair within the 30 day right to reject period.
  • Retailers cannot charge for the repair/replacement and must provide it within a reasonable time frame. If a fault is later found, the consumer is able to request a full or partial refund depending on the time that has passed.
  • Traders may be required to collect goods themselves or be on the hook for the reasonable costs of a consumer returning goods to them.
  • Any goods hired by consumers may be partially rejected if they not conform to the contract and a refund must be given in respect of the proportion of goods rejected.

Repair or replacement

  • Where a consumer has lost the right to reject goods, a repair or replacement may still be claimed after the 30 day period. If the defect is found within the first six months it is deemed to have been present on the day of delivery; however, a consumer must prove the defect was present on the day of delivery if it is discovered after six months.
  • If the goods still do not meet the required standard after just one attempt at repair/replacement, the consumer is entitled to a price reduction or to reject the goods.

Delivery period

  • If the contract is silent on a delivery time, goods must be delivered not more than 30 days after the day on which the contract is entered into and without undue delay.

Traders can avoid having to pay for the ‘reasonable costs’ of goods being returned by ensuring customers are told prior to entering into the contract that goods must be returned to the place of purchase. A delivery period should also be stated in the contract if a delivery period of more than 30 days is anticipated. Companies should also take the time to ensure new procedures for dealing with customer complaints are implemented prior to 1 October and that their staff are adequately trained so they can deal with complaints in compliance with the Act.

While, in theory, the Act should simplify the law and process, many are worried about the impact these new provisions will have. For example, traders who sell highly innovative or complex goods are especially likely to be affected as their products may need more than one repair/replacement as and when technology develops. Companies now face the task of ensuring the provisions are incorporated as seamlessly as possible into the daily running of the business to ensure the new law is effectively implemented.

Eddie Powell, Partner, Fladgate LLP (epowell@fladgate.com)

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