The Government has announced that the Consumer Rights Bill is intended to become law on 1 October 2015 subject to the ongoing parliamentary process.

The existing framework of consumer law is set out in over 100 separate pieces of legislation. Consolidation of these rules would, it is thought, create a better compliance framework for businesses.  Moreover the existing framework is considered to be out of date (for example, around digital content), inconsistent (for example, as between contracts for goods and contracts for services), and particularly confusing for consumers to understand.

The Bill aims to tackle the problem of overlapping and inconsistent consumer legislation by putting in one place the law on consumer contracts. It will introduce significant changes to consumer laws including those dealing with the provision of goods, services and digital content. There will also be changes to the present unfair terms legislation which will affect all contractual relationships with consumers, including those made in-store and formed online.

The Government’s aim is for guidance for businesses to be produced by the beginning of April to give them six months to prepare. The primary source of business guidance will be the Trading Standards Institute Business Companion website – www.businesscompanion.info

The changes will require a careful review of how goods, services and digital content are offered to consumers and the terms and conditions that are used.

For further information please contact Crispin Dick or Emily Sadler. A further, more detailed update on the changes will be included in a  Commercial Newsletter when the new Bill reaches its final stages.