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On 1st October 2015, the new Consumer Rights Act comes into force. In what is being cited as the biggest overhaul in a generation, the Consumer Rights Act (CRA) is a milestone in the field, making consumer law clearer and easier to understand.

The changes to the CRA will attempt to streamline complicated consumer law by rearranging the 8 pieces of legislation into one place, thus making it much simpler for consumers to understand their rights and challenge bad practice.

The new CRA will stand alongside regulations to simplify the body of consumer law. With UK shoppers spending £90 billion a month, the hope is that more confidence will be given to both consumers who buy and business that sell through the clarification of these basic rules. As a result of the changes, consumers are going to have more rights, especially when it comes to digital content, such as e-books and games, which has been a grey area since its inception.

The updated rights will help to avoid disagreements between consumers and businesses by making the rules more user friendly around what to do in certain circumstances, such as what should happen if a service doesn’t match up to what has been agreed. It will also make settling disputes easier to handle rather than going through the Courts.

Many of the changes are updates of previous laws, but for the first time, the CRA will include reference to digital content, bringing consumer law into the 21st century with e-commerce transactions thriving and showing no sign of slowing down. In 2016, it is expected that Britons will spend £60 billion online.

The government hopes that well-informed, confident consumers will be willing to spend more money, in turn driving continued growth and building a healthier economy.

The important changes that will come into effect on 1st October 2015:

  • A 30-day time period to return faulty goods and get a full refund. Previously, the law was unclear on how long this period should last
  • New rights for consumers to get a repair or replacement when digital content is faulty. This will cover online films, games, music downloads and e-books.
  • Giving consumers a clear right to demand that services that fall short of what was agreed are redone or failing that receive a reduction in price
  • The ability to challenge terms and conditions which are unfair or hidden in the small print
  • For businesses, public enforcers, such as Trading Standards Officers, will have to give 48 hours’ notice when carrying out a routine inspection. TSO will be able to carry out unannounced inspections, but only if they suspect illegal activity
  • Businesses who have been disadvantaged from breaches in competition law will receive faster and lower cost remedies

Upshot for businesses

The CRA will have a large impact on the business sector, specifically businesses who deal with consumers. If your business does deal with consumers, you should be making sure you are compliant with the CRA prior to 1st October. It will be vital to educate your staff about the changes the CRA will bring so they can implement the correct procedures.

Businesses will need to consider how additional terms and conditions are incorporated into consumers’ contracts and to what extent such communications are made.

It will be important for you to think about reviewing your processes and documentation, such as:

  • Cancellation and returns policy
  • Sales processes
  • Buyer terms and conditions
  • Marketing materials & website and app terms
  • Telephone scripts
  • Pre-contractual documentation

The new CRA 2015 greatly increases the rights of consumers and the powers of the court. If you feel your consumer rights have been breached give our specialist dispute resolution team a call today on 0161 930 5117. You can also fill in our online contact form and one of our expert team members will contact you at a more convenient time.