New legislation to enhance consumer rights

After the implementation of the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (which we talked about in October) and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (which we talked about in November), the much anticipated Consumer Rights Bill is ready for Royal Assent as the two Houses of Parliament have now agreed the outstanding points on it.

The Consumer Rights Bill is the keystone of the UK government's consumer law reform programme. It is intended to reform and consolidate much of consumer law in the UK, and constitutes the most extensive consumer law reform in the UK in decades. Most notably it will:

- clarify the standards a consumer can expect when they buy something,

- set out what to do when goods, services or digital content do not meet those standards, and

- clarify when terms and conditions can be considered unfair.

The explanatory notes that accompany the Bill make it clear that the requirements set out in the new legislation can apply to charities.  It will be particularly relevant to charity shops (whether operating online or in a traditional “bricks and mortar” building).  Those charities would be well advised to review their terms and conditions, policies, practices and procedures connected with sales to individual consumers to ensure they are consistent with the new legislation, which is expected to come into force on 1 October 2015.

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