Reformed consumer law brings new protections

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 comes into force today bringing new rights for consumers and protecting businesses from unfair competition.

The Act implements recommendations for reform made by the Law Commissions for England and Wales and for Scotland in two areas of consumer law: remedies for faulty goods and unfair terms in consumer contracts.

From today, consumers have up to 30 days to return faulty goods and still be entitled to a refund. The previous provision, entitling consumers to a refund only if goods were returned within a “reasonable time”, was much less clear and open to dispute.

Consumers also now have greater protection from unfair charges hidden in small print, under other Law Commission reforms implemented in the Act. Prices in consumer contracts that are not transparent or prominent will now be open to challenge by the courts. As well as strengthening consumer rights, this reform gives traders control over which charges are exempt from review and, by encouraging transparency, reduces opportunities for unfair competition.

Stephen Lewis, Law Commissioner for commercial and common law, England and Wales, said: “We are delighted to see the Consumer Rights Act coming into force and implementing Law Commission reforms to protect the rights of consumers and reduce the burden of unfair competition on honest businesses.

“These significant reforms represent more than eight years’ collaborative work with our colleagues in the Scottish Law Commission and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and its predecessors. We are grateful for the enormous contribution made by the consumer rights groups and the business sector in helping us achieve balanced reform that benefits both consumers and businesses.

“The changes coming into force today demonstrate clearly the extent to which reform can make the law clearer, fairer and more accessible to all those who depend on it.”