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Important consumer legislation comes into force

Posted: 2 October, 2015. Written by Mark

Two important pieces of consumer legislation came into force on 1 October 2015. They are: the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015. The new laws will affect business to consumer contracts in the small-scale renewable generation sector...

The Consumer Rights Act 2015

The purpose of the Consumer Rights Act is to simplify UK consumer law by consolidating eight separate laws into one. Amongst the legislation being superseded is the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. From 1 October consumers will have new rights relating to remedies for, among other things, poor installations or the supply of faulty goods.

The Act has three parts: part 1 covers consumer contracts for goods, digital content and services; part 2 covers unfair terms; and part 3 covers miscellaneous and general provisions. Businesses will need to review the way in which consumer complaints are handled, and make sure that their point of sale material is up-to-date and accurate as consumers will be able to claim compensation if they believe they were misled. Businesses will also need to consider the wording of their contracts as terms will now have to pass a “fairness test” rather than the previous “reasonableness test”. The powers available to consumer law enforcers will also be enhanced.

Specific guidance for RECC members is available in the Members’ Area of the RECC website.
Detailed business guidance is available on the Business Companion website.

The Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015

New legislation implementing the European Alternative Dispute Resolution Directive came into force on 9 July 2015. The aim of the new Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) regulations is to offer an easier, quicker and more cost-effective means of resolving complaints when compared with going to court. The new regulations will affect almost all UK businesses selling goods, services or digital content to consumers in the EU. In order to comply with the new regulations businesses will need to review their websites, terms and conditions and complaints handling procedures.

The new Regulations will require traders, if they fail to resolve a dispute through their own customer service efforts, to advise consumers of a certified ADR body relevant to their sector and to inform them whether or not they will escalate the complaint to the ADR body. In most sectors traders will not be compelled to use an ADR body.

However, the regulations differ for traders that have committed to an industry Code. The Renewable Energy Consumer Code, for example, is a certified ADR Provider and its Members must comply with certain information provision requirements set out in the legislation. Detailed guidance is available to RECC Members in the Members’ Area of the RECC website.

Although the legislation came into force on 9 July 2015 the information requirements for traders take effect from 1 October 2015.

General guidance can be found here