The UK’s new Consumer Rights Act will come into force on 1 October 2015 to supersede eight pieces of legislation, including the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.
While the key motive for amending the legislation was the concern that it failed to address the issues of the digital age, it was also an opportunity to clarify consumers’ existing rights and to enhance them where possible. So the new Act incorporates some significant changes to consumer rights; an expansion of enforcement powers; and a new remedy of opt-out collective redress for consumers affected by anti-competitive actions.
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is separate from the EU Consumer Rights Directive. The latter deals mostly with distance sales and is implemented in the UK via the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 and the Payment Surcharges Regulations 2012.
A current consultation is seeking views on whether small businesses employing up to 49 people should also be defined as “consumers”.
And the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 have been published. After 9 July 2015 businesses will be required to inform consumers of an appropriate ADR scheme but use of such services will remain voluntary, at least for the time being. A list of approved providers is not yet available.