Key points for charities to take from new Consumer Rights Act

The majority of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force on 1 October 2015.  It consolidates previous case law and legislation, but does make some changes to the law that are likely to be relevant to charities when they are dealing with individuals who are not acting mainly for the purposes of their trade, business, craft or profession.  Three key points are:

  • Unfair terms: The Act sets out a “blacklist” of terms that will automatically be deemed unfair and not binding on a consumer. In particular, charities cannot exclude/limit liability for breach of the terms implied by the Act into a contract for goods or paid for digital content. In relation to services, charities cannot limit liability for breach of certain implied terms to less than the contract price.  There is also a “grey list” of 20 potentially unfair terms (these will be subject to a fairness test).
  • Digital content: The Act introduces a completely new set of rights and remedies for consumers purchasing digital content. The term ‘digital content’ covers, for example, books in digital format, computer software, audio-visual content, mobile apps and computer games. However, the consumer protection legislation will not apply to free digital content – it only relates to purchases where payment passes. 
  • Transparency: There is now a statutory requirement that all terms of a consumer contract must be in plain and intelligible language.  This may require some charities to rewrite their standard terms and conditions...

Further free guidance is available on the www.gov.uk website and from the Business Companion website, whose compliance checklist may be a particularly useful reference point.

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