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Consumer Rights

By Steven Gilliland, Litigation Solicitor – Published 13 October 2017

Low-cost airline Ryanair recently announced the cancellation of up to 50 flights per day, affecting not only those scheduled to fly out but those set to return home! The situation left many confused and unsure of their rights, and indeed has highlighted the ambiguity overall surrounding consumer rights when dealing with commercial entities.

In this blog we take a look at what consumers should expect when they purchase goods or services, and what they can do when things go wrong.

The main piece of legislation in this area is the Consumer Rights Act 2015 which applies to all contracts for the supply of goods, provision of services, and the supply of digital content formed between a trader and consumer. This piece of legislation was introduced to help simplify the law relating to contracts for goods/services and the law of unfair terms.

In relation to a contract for the sale or supply of goods, the Act will imply certain terms into the contract including but not limited to:

1. The goods must be of satisfactory quality
2. The goods must be fit for purpose
3. The goods must match their description
4. The trader must have the right to supply the goods

Where any of the above implied terms are breached by a trader, the law provides the consumer with certain remedies.

For example, let’s assume a consumer buys a laptop from a retailer and once he gets home he discovers that the screen doesn’t work. In this scenario it is clear that the laptop is not of satisfactory quality, nor is it fit for purpose. As a result of this breach the consumer would have the right to reject the laptop, the right to have it replaced /repaired or, if he would prefer to retain the laptop, the right to a price reduction.

In addition to implying terms into a contract, the Act can also exclude terms which would not be fair on a consumer. If a term is deemed to be unfair, there is a rebuttable presumption that it will not be binding on the consumer; the effect of this is that the contract will continue as if the unfair term was never included. Some examples of unfair terms include:

1. Additional fees and charges hidden in small print
2. Any term which has the effect of excluding or limiting the trader’s liability in the event of the death or personal injury to the consumer resulting from an act or omission of the trader
3. Any term which requires a consumer who fails to fulfil his obligations under the contract to pay a disproportionately large amount of compensation
4. Any term which has the effect of authorising the trader to dissolve the contract on a discretionary basis where the same facility is not granted to the consumer
5. Any term permitting the trader to retain the sums paid for services not yet supplied by the trader where it is the trader who dissolves the contract

At MKB Law we understand that consumers do not always know what rights they have or how to go about enforcing them; we also understand retailers may be difficult to deal with and may even try to deny the consumer has any rights at all. We are experienced with dealing with retailers and getting our client’s the remedies they are entitled to.

Just because a term is in the contract doesn’t mean you are bound by it, as a consumer the law is on your side.

For more information, please contact me on 028 9024 2450 or email sg@mkblaw.co.uk

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