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Consumer Rights Act

Trader's obligations

The Act applies when the trader and the consumer enter into a contract for the provision of services face to face, eg in a shop. When a consumer contracts for a service, that service must be performed:

  • with reasonable care and skill (i.e. the trader must have done everything they can); and
  • in line with certain information about it or about the trader (i.e. if the trader tells a consumer something about themselves or the service being provided, then that “something” should be true).

A contract will often specify a price, or it will be clear about how the price will be calculated (eg an hourly rate). Where the price is not agreed beforehand, the price must be reasonable. Similarly, where there is no agreement about the date or time for the service to be performed or completed, the timescale must be reasonable.

What is 'reasonable?'

What is reasonable depends on the type of service and all other relevant circumstances, for example:

  • the level of care and skill that is considered reasonable for everyone else in the trader's industry (i.e. there may be a code of practice that everyone in that industry adheres to); and
  • the cost of the service (i.e. a lower standard of care and skill might be reasonable in a quick and cheap repair service than in a more expensive and thorough one).

If in doubt, you can always Ask a lawyer.

What happens if the service isn't performed properly?

If the service is not performed properly, the consumer is entitled to require repeat performance by the trader at the trader's cost, unless repeat performance is impossible. In that case, the consumer is entitled to a price reduction and will mean giving the consumer some money back; especially if they've already paid the full price.

Consumer Contracts Regulations

The Regulations apply when the trader and the consumer enter into a contract for the provision of services at a distance, i.e. online. They provide consumers with a 14-day cooling-off period and require certain information to be given to consumers (eg about the service to be provided). Once information has been given to the consumer, it becomes part of the contract with them and cannot be changed without the consumer's consent. For more information about the Consumer Contracts Regulations read Online business regulations.

Supply of Goods and Services Act

The Act only applies to contracts for the supply of goods or services entered into before 1 October 2015. It requires that traders carry out work with reasonable care and skill in a reasonable time and at a reasonable price. Further, any materials or goods supplied as part of the service must be of satisfactory quality, as described and fit for purpose. In this way, the Act is very much like the Sale of Goods Act.

Failure to meet these requirements by the trader is considered to be a breach of contract, allowing a consumer to seek through the court that the work be carried out correctly, or that money paid is duly recovered. The consumer also has to act 'reasonably' to allow the trader to make the problems right again.

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