Right to Repairs – Consumer Rights Extended?

You may have seen in the news that new laws have been introduced granting consumers further rights to repair. But what do consumers and product suppliers need to know and do the laws do what they say on the tin?

Further consumer rights to repairs have effectively been introduced by the Ecodesign for Energy-Related Products and Energy Information Regulations 2021 (the ‘Ecodesign Regulations’) which are expected to improve the availability of repairs for consumers in relation to certain defective home appliances with effect from 1 July 2021. Although not directly intended as a consumer right, the Ecodesign Regulations provide consumers with greater access to repairs for longer periods of time than was previously provided under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (‘the CRA’) in relation to certain products.

These regulations have been introduced in an attempt to reduce the amount of appliances and electrical waste being produced, and will effectively provide consumers with greater rights than the current statutory rights in relation to repairs and replacements under the CRA.

The Ecodesign Regulations – what has changed?
The Ecodesign Regulations oblige manufacturers, authorised representatives and importers of certain products to make available to professional repairers certain types of spare parts for their repair. Consumers are also given greater access to spare parts, but the list of parts available to consumers is not as extensive as those available to professional repairers. There is also an obligation on such manufacturers, authorised representatives and importers to make greater information regarding repairs available to professional repairers. The products that these obligations apply to are:

  • dishwashers
  • washer-driers
  • washing machines
  • refrigerators and
  • electronic displays (including televisions)

The repairs using these spare parts must also be possible to complete using commonly available tools, broadening the availability of such repairs for consumers.

The regulations therefore to not create a new absolute right to repair for consumers, but allows for greater access to repairs to the certain above-specified products.

How long must spare parts be made available?
Under the Ecodesign Regulations, depending on the type of product, spare parts must be made available for minimum periods ranging from 7 to 10 years. These time periods commence following the placement of the last unit of a particular model of an applicable appliance on the market, meaning that consumers will likely have longer than this depending on when they purchase the product.

What does this mean for consumer rights?
Under the CRA, consumers already had the right to get faulty goods repaired or replaced at no cost for up to 6 years following the purchase of those goods. In order to exercise this right, the consumer must be able to show that the defect causing the need for repair or replacement was present or arose as a result of the condition of the goods at the time they are purchased. This then becomes more difficult for consumers as time passes to show a correlation between the defect in the goods and the fault.

Under the Ecodesign Regulations, there is no such requirement to show the cause of the defect, and instead spare parts and information for repair must be made available for the above-specified goods. It is hoped that these new rights will therefore improve the lifespan of products for consumers and ultimately reduce the UK’s amount of electronic waste being produced.

Please contact our commercial team.

Mark Chapman
Partner, Commercial
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This reflects the law and market position at the date of publication and is written as a general guide. It does not contain definitive legal advice, which should be sought in relation to a specific matter.

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