The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has launched a consultation on the Consumer Rights Bill. The Government announced the proposed legislation in Autumn 2011, and the consultation set out what changes might be made to existing legislation. The consultation covers goods, services and digital content.
In relation to goods, essentially the proposals are to make consumer remedies for faulty goods clearer. This would include a 30 day period to reject faulty goods in most cases and a seven day period to inspect goods that have been repaired.
For services, what has been proposed is a default 30 day period for the performance of services where no other performance period is specified. What has also been proposed is to make the provision of services with “reasonable skill and care” a statutory guarantee. A more controversial proposal, where the services are for the installation of goods, is to have a strict liability standard of satisfactory quality for the installation; this is controversial as, whilst many other European Union member states have similar legislation, it would be new for the UK.
In relation to digital content, the current statutory regime does not specifically deal with this, and there is a doubt whether it would fall within the definition of “goods”, particularly in relation to software. The proposals include:
- suppliers providing certain pre-contract information to consumers;
- consumers having 14 days to cancel the contract; and
- minimum quality standards for digital content with statutory remedies for breach of those standards.
However, the proposals indicate that streaming or downloading would not be considered digital content and would, instead, be regarded as a service.
The consultation closes on 5th October 2012.