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Background

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (“CRA 2015” or “the Act”) came into force on 1 October 2015, under which a single set of rules now apply to all contracts where goods or services are supplied by businesses to consumers, including sale and hire contracts.

For the first time there are also specific rules relating to digital content.

The new rules apply only to business-to-consumer contracts, and will not apply to business-to-business contracts or consumer-to-consumer contracts.

Contracts made before 1 October 2015

For contracts made before 1 October 2015, different legislation and different rules may apply. In most cases, there will be little difference in the practical steps required by both consumer and trader in resolving a complaint. However, there may be some cases where a consumer has the right to reject goods under an older contract even where they would not have the same right under a new contract.

SUPPLY OF GOODS

What can the consumer expect?

Under the CRA 2015, certain standards apply to every transaction for the sale and supply of goods. The person transferring or selling the goods must have the right to do so and the goods must:

  • be of satisfactory quality
  • be fit for a particular purpose – where it is obvious goods are intended for a particular purpose and a trader supplies them to meet that requirement
  • match the description, sample or display model 
  • be installed correctly (if installation forms part of the contract)

Remedies

If the trader breaches any of the required standards listed above, then the consumer has the right to certain remedies as follows:

Short-term right to reject

There is a short period during which the consumer is entitled to reject the goods. This short-term right to reject goods lasts for 30 days. If the consumer asks for repair or replacement during this initial 30-day period, the period is paused so that the consumer has the remainder of the 30-day period or 7 days (whichever is longer) to check whether the repair or replacement has been successful and to decide whether to reject the goods.
When a consumer rejects goods he or she is entitled to claim a refund. This would either be a full refund, or in the case of hire, a refund for any part of the hire that was paid for but not supplied. A refund must be given without undue delay and within 14 days of the trader agreeing that the consumer is entitled to a refund.

Repair or Replacement

When there is a breach of contract but the consumer chooses not to reject the goods, they will be entitled to demand a repair or replacement.
Where this is claimed, the trader must undertake the relevant repairs or issue the replacement at no cost to the consumer, within a reasonable time, and without causing significant inconvenience.

Price reduction and final right to reject

If the remedies of repair or replacement are not available or are unsuccessful, or are not provided within a reasonable time and without significant inconvenience to the consumer, then the consumer can claim a price reduction or reject the goods.
A price reduction must be an appropriate amount, which will depend on all circumstances of the claim. It can be any amount up to the whole price.
If the consumer rejects the goods, they will be entitled to a refund. The refund may be reduced to take account of any use the consumer has had from the goods. A deduction cannot be made where goods are rejected within 6 months of supply (except where the goods are a motor vehicle).

Burden of Proof

If the consumer chooses repair, replacement, price reduction or final right to reject, and if the defect is discovered within 6 months of delivery, it is assumed that the fault was there at the time of delivery unless the trader can prove otherwise. If more than 6 months have passed, the consumer has to prove the defect was there at the time of delivery.

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