Consumer Rights Act 2015

Published Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015) came into force on 1 October 2015. The Act represents the biggest overhaul of consumer law for many decades.This briefing paper sets out in detail the background to the Act and the main provisions of Parts 1 and 2 (not Part 3).

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The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015) came into force on 1 October 2015. The Act represents the biggest overhaul of consumer law for many decades.

Over the last few years, the UK’s consumer protection regime has been reviewed, dismantled and completely rebuilt. Legislative reforms have been made against a backdrop of structural changes to consumer law enforcement bodies, creating a new consumer landscape. The aim is to empower consumers by creating a simplified and enhanced legal regime that affords greater rights when buying goods, services and digital content.

There have been two drivers of change. First, the adoption in October 2011 of the EU Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EC). Second, the CRA 2015, which was introduced in the House of Commons on 23 January 2014 and received Royal Assent on 26 March 2015.

In a nutshell, the CRA 2015 is designed to:

  • Set out a framework that consolidates in one place key consumer rights covering contracts for goods, services and digital content (Part 1).
  • Reforms and consolidates the law relating to unfair terms in consumer contracts (Part 2).
  • Introduce easier routes for consumers and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to challenge anti-competitive behaviour through the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) (Part 3).
  • Consolidate and simplify enforcers’ powers as listed in Schedule 5 to investigate potential breaches of consumer law and clarify that certain enforcers (Trading Standards) can operate across local authority boundaries (Part 3).
  • Give the civil courts and public enforcers greater flexibility to take the most appropriate action for consumers when dealing with breaches or potential breaches of consumer law (Part 3).  
  • Changes the way in which judges are able to sit as chairs in the CAT (Part 3).For completeness, I should also point out that the CRA 2015 imposes a duty on letting agents to publish their fees and other information. Further, the Act expands the list of higher education providers which are required to join the higher education complaints handling scheme, and includes certain requirements relating to resale of tickets for recreational, sporting and cultural events.

This briefing paper sets out in detail the background to the Act and the main provisions of Parts 1 and 2 (not Part 3). Specifically, it looks at new rules on consumer contracts for goods, digital content and services and unfair terms in consumer contracts and notices. In the process, this paper also outlines the main structural changes to consumer regulatory and enforcement bodies.

 

Commons Briefing papers SN06588

Author: Lorraine Conway

Topic: Consumers

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