It is essential that your commercial agreements comply with consumer law. At the same time, you need to ensure that your interests are properly protected; which can be a fine balancing act.
The sale of goods and services to consumers is subject to a wide range of legislation and regulation covering areas including:
- Terms implied in to all contracts for supply of goods and/or services to consumers, including the requirement that goods are of satisfactory quality.
- Terms and conditions which are considered to be unfair (and therefore unlawful) for use in transactions with consumers.
- Misleading advertising rules and regulations.
- Unfair commercial practices including misleading consumers either through what is said prior to sale, or equally what is not said.
- Product safety, including post sale safety monitoring and reporting obligations.
- The requirements that must be met by any voluntary manufacturer’s warranty offered by a product manufacturer.
- The relationship between voluntary manufacturer warranties and consumer law.
- Distance selling regulations, including the ‘cooling off’ period generally afforded to consumers that purchase goods via a website or call centre.
- Advising a well-known hotel brand on their terms and conditions with consumers and on covid related impacts to the contracts
- Advising an international brand on a range of consumer facing contracts including supply of goods agreements, software licence agreements, product warranties and returns policies
- Managing the international expansion of an international brand in relation to its consumer agreements
- Advising an automotive broker on its terms and conditions of sale.
Consumer Law FAQs
What are examples of consumer rights?
Consumers have a statutory cooling off period of 14 days during which they are able to cancel the contract, but note this doesn’t apply to all consumer contracts. The law also prescribes certain rights in respect of faulty goods or services not supplied properly. These are varied and depend on what is being provided and what the issue is. They also have the right to receive certain information from the trader prior to entering into the contract.
Can I contract out of the consumer protection laws?
For many of the consumer protection laws, you are unable to contract out of them, and any provision which purports to do so would be considered unenforceable. It is also important to consider that some actions when dealing with consumers can be considered unfair practices which can attract criminal liability.
In addition, many clauses in consumer contracts are subject to the test of fairness and will be considered unenforceable if it fails to meet the required tests.
Is there a Consumer Protection Code my business can implement?
Unfortunately, there is no single ‘consumer protection code’, making consumer law compliance a real challenge for businesses. Our experts are on hand to provide commercial, pragmatic advice.
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