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On 1 October 2015, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (the “Act”) comes into force. It represents the most extensive reform to consumer law in the UK for decades and sweeps away much existing legislation in favour of a largely ‘one stop shop’ for consumer legislation.
Although it could be said that the Act largely consolidates existing consumer law relating to goods and services, the impact in relation to the supply of digital content to consumers is far more pronounced. The law is seeking to catch up with the digital age.
Existing law has seen the courts apply the statutory protections afforded to goods (i.e. obligations of satisfactory quality, fitness for purpose, compliance with description) to tangible media which contains defective digital content. However, where digital content has not been provided in a tangible form (i.e. download or stream), the position has been much less clear.
This uncertainty has been addressed under the Act. Digital content is a new category of product and is to be treated similarly to tangible goods and the provision of services. Accordingly, contracts for the supply of digital content to consumers will be treated as including implied terms as to satisfactory quality, fitness for purpose, trader’s right to supply, compliance with description and compliance with pre-contract information. If digital content supplied to a consumer by a trader does not meet those obligations (irrespective of whether such terms were agreed expressly), the consumer will have a statutory recourse under the Act. That right of recourse will be to request a repair or replacement and, if repair or replacement is impossible or not properly carried out, a right to a price reduction. That price reduction may be as much as 100% of the price paid.
Digital Content: Key points:
The Act, insofar as it relates to digital content, shows the law to be moving with the times. Indeed, the Government has reserved the rights to extend consumer protection in the future to reflect changing consumer practices. The changes bring the digital world in line with the world of physical goods and services. Those traders, be they consumer facing or in a chain which ultimately delivers to consumers, should ensure that terms and conditions and trading practices reflect what will be the law from 1 October 2015.
This article was written by Jamie Cartwright.
For more information please contact Jamie on +44 (0)1483 252618 or email@example.com