The Consumer Rights Act (CRA) 2015 governs the sale and supply of goods, services, and digital content to consumers.
A consumer is defined as ‘an individual acting for the purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individuals trade, business, craft or profession’. However, an individual is not a consumer when the sales contract is for second-hand goods sold at public auction and the individual had the opportunity to attend the sale in person, except for the requirements in relation to information provided about the goods and the delivery of, and risk in the goods. If a trader claims that an individual is not a consumer, the trader bears the burden of proof.
A trader is defined as ‘a person acting personally or through another person acting in the trader’s name or on the trader’s behalf, for purposes relating to that person’s trade, business, craft or profession.
The CRA 2015 covers:
- Rights and remedies for supplies of goods, services, and digital content.
- Unfair terms in consumer contracts.
- Civil remedies.
- Consumer collective actions for anti-competitive behaviour.
- The reform of consumer law enforcement powers.
- New duties for letting agents.
- New rules on secondary ticketing.
In relation to goods:
Goods must be of satisfactory quality, be fit for purpose and be as described. They must match a model seen or examined by the consumer, unless the trader has explained any differences to the consumer before the contract is made. If the goods are installed, they will only meet the standards required if they are installed correctly. If the goods include digital content, such as a disc with a game, the goods will only comply with the contract if the digital content conforms to the contract.
Consumers have certain rights when goods do not conform with the contract. The remedies in the CRA do not prevent the consumer from seeking other remedies such as damages. The consumer has:
- Short term right to reject the goods and receive a refund. The consumer has 30 days to reject the goods. Although, perishable goods have a shorter time period. A trader can extend this period, but they cannot shorten it. the consumer loses this right if they do not reject the goods within the time period, unless the trader agrees to extend. (note: this is not the same as the 14-day cancellation period provided by The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013)
- Tiered remedies. When the period for the short term right to reject has passed, the consumer can ask the trader to repair or replace the goods. If the repair in inadequate or replacement is impossible, the consumer can ask for the price to be reduced or has a final right to reject. The final right to reject allows for any refund to the consumer to be reduced by a deduction for use.
Section 28 of the CRA gives a default delivery period of 30 days for goods, but they should be delivered without undue delay. This period can be changed if the parties agree.
Goods remain at the trader’s risk until the consumer or someone chosen by the consumer receives them. This is not the case if the consumer instructs their own carrier to deliver the goods. Sections 25-26 of the CRA covers deliveries of the wrong quantity and instalment deliveries.
Section 30 of the CRA states the rules on consumer guarantees which were previously contained in Regulation 15 of the Sale and supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002.
The rights and remedies under Part 1 of the CRA generally only apply to digital content that has been paid for by the consumer. However, it does include free digital content that has been supplied with other goods, services, or digital content that has been paid for.
The standards that apply to digital content are like those that apply for goods such as, satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described. It is an implied term that the trader has the right to provide the digital content to the consumer.
If a trader updates or modifies the digital content, it must also comply with the standards.
There is no right to reject digital content. The consumer has the right to repair or replacement. If this is not possible the consumer has the right to a price reduction or a refund.
A consumer is entitled to compensation if the digital content damages their device or other digital content. For example, it brings a virus. However, it is the consumer that must show that the digital content caused damage or that the trader did not act with reasonable skill and care. This also applies to digital content that has been given for free.
Sections 49-52 of the CRA states the rights that consumers have with regards to services. These are:
- Services must be performed with reasonable skill and care.
- If no price or pricing method is set out in the contract, the consumer must pay a reasonable price.
- If no time frame is set out, the trader must carry out the services in a reasonable time.
If the services do not conform with the contract, there is no right to reject. The consumer has:
- The right to ask for repeat performance.
- The right to a price reduction if repeat performance is impossible or not carried out in a reasonable time frame.