Government introduces Consumer Rights Act, as it seeks to simplify and modernise UK consumer law

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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are being made aware that the law has changed for consumers and it now covers new areas.

Introduced on 1 October 2015, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 seeks to simplify and modernise UK consumer law. The act replaces three major pieces of consumer legislation; the Sale of Goods Act 1979, Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.

Importantly, this is the first time that consumer rights relating to digital content have been clearly set out in the UK. It means that if a digital product such as a game or music file is faulty, not as described or not of satisfactory quality, consumers are entitled to a refund, repair or a replacement. However, if that repair or replacement is impossible or if not done within a reasonable time, then consumers can ask for a price reduction, which can be up to 100 per cent of the cost of the digital content. Consumers will also be entitled to a remedy if any device or other digital content is damaged as a result of the digital content that has been downloaded.

Furthermore, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 introduces a specific period of 30 days for consumers to reject a faulty item and obtain a full refund. The period is shorter for perishable goods where the timeframe will be determined by how long it is reasonable to have expected the goods to last.

There is also a ‘tiered’ remedy system for faulty goods, digital content and services, as well as a focus on unfair conditions in consumer contracts. This will mean that the key terms of a contract, including charges, may be assessed for fairness. Furthermore, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 states that if a retailer provides pre-contract information in relation to a service and the consumer takes this information into account, the service must comply with that information.

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