Consumer rights; don’t get it wrong
JFH Law have been one of our dedicated trainers on the Building Legacies programme for the last five months, leading SME’s through topics such as contract law, employment law and protecting your business interests. You can learn more about JFH Law and contact them directly by clicking here.
In our final workshop for the Building Legacies programme on 15th March 2017, we will be helping you navigate the Consumer Rights Act 2015. An Act which swings the law in favour of the consumer, giving them enhanced rights compared with normal breach of contract claims. Small businesses must be able to deal with consumer complaints both fairly and in line with their legal obligations.
Understanding how to deal with consumer complaints properly can protect from legal claims, saving time and money in the long run. It can also help to protect a company’s reputation and ensure that a business grows; sadly consumers are more likely to shout about the bad experiences they have had than the good ones.
This workshop will help you identify who is a consumer, and thus who can actually rely on the rights and remedies provided by the Consumer Rights Act. A good example of this is mobile phone contracts; often sole traders enter into contracts for mobile phones where the phone is used for both business and pleasure. However, the main purpose of the contract is often business related and normally attracts a better deal. In such cases the mobile phone company will tie the sole trader into a contract for 36 months. This length of contract is not permitted with consumers. Even though the sole trader is an individual, it is the purposes of the contract that determines consumer status, and in this scenario the sole trader will be deemed a business.
Once a customer is defined as a consumer, it is then possible to determine what terms are implied into the contract, which of those terms must be complied with and which can be contracted out of. In our workshop we will set out what these implied terms are so that you can consider whether your current contracts meet these requirements. Thus helping you ensure you are compliant with the Consumer Rights Act in future dealings.
Another important feature of the Consumer Rights Act is the remedies it provides for the consumer. Depending on when the fault occurs will depend on what remedy must be offered. For example the consumer has a right to request ‘repair or exchange’. It is the consumer’s choice for repair or exchange unless the company are able to show it is not reasonable for one or the other. For example, if a consumer purchases a car and the wing mirror falls off, they cannot insist on a new car, where to replace a wing mirror will be the cheaper option.
The consequences of non-compliance are that Trading Standards can issue the company with a court order that they must comply with the Consumer Rights Act; a failure to then comply with this order is a criminal offence, which if found guilty of can result in an unlimited fine or up to two years imprisonment.
In addition, consumers can pursue a court claim against the company. If they are successful they would be entitled to compensation in respect of the faulty good or service plus any other losses flowing from your breach. On top of that if the claim is worth more than £10,000, they are also likely to be awarded their legal costs, which the company will also have to pay.
This workshop we will therefore give individuals and company owners the tools to feel confident that consumers are being dealt with in line with their legal obligations, helping prevent small issues turning into large complaints. We will help identify who a consumer is, what terms are implied into every consumer contract, what remedies a consumer is entitled to, and how it all applies to digital content. We will also provide you with practical tips to help you ensure your contracts comply with the Act, guidance on how to deal with complaints and what you should do if a claim is issued against you.
You can attend the ‘Consumer Rights Act 2015; a guide for small businesses’ workshop by clicking here and registering your place today.