News & Insights

Motor Vehicles and Satisfactory Quality – The Consumer Rights Act 2015

Tom Maple, head of the Automotive Team at FSP, considers a key change to the sale of goods act legislation brought about in the Consumer Rights Act 2015, namely the right to reject within 30 days.

It is a mystery to me why such a significant piece of legislation, i.e. The Consumer Rights Act 2015, which replaced three big pieces of consumer legislation – the Sale of Goods Act, Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations and the Supply of Goods and Services Act, is not known by every consumer and businessman alike. However, it seems that, even to lawyers who should know better, there is blissful ignorance of this major change to Consumer Law.

The Consumer Rights Act introduces a number of key rights, where your goods “do not conform to the contract” of sale. In summary:

  • A 30 day period to get a refund; or
  • A two tier remedy system – Firstly, a right to request a repair or replacement, then, if that fails (the seller only has one attempt to repair or replace)
  • A right to request a reduction on the purchase price or refund. (No deductions can be made from the sums refunded save in relation to motor vehicles, where the seller may make a deduction for the use you have had of that vehicle).

The standard by which a purchase is judged remains the same, i.e. are the goods of “satisfactory quality” or “fit for purpose“.

Purchases of motor vehicles seem to evoke more ire than any other purchase of goods in my experience. Buyers’ expectations are far higher with new vehicles (the Act applies equally to second hand vehicles) and, as a result, they often try to reject goods for the most trivial of issues. [Note, the law does not apply to private sales, i.e. a private seller (i.e. not a trader) to a consumer].

You cannot get a refund because you do not like the car or there is a minor issue, say, with the interior. Similarly, you cannot reject the car and automatically demand a refund if it goes wrong after 9 months. The contrary is however true if, say, the vehicle is clearly faulty from the date of delivery and you reject within 30 days of the date of purchase (although note, the onus is on the seller to prove there is a fault in that 30 day period).

If you do have a problem with any goods that you have purchased, be it car, drone, Ipod or clothing, it is important that you know your rights, in particular your rights to reject. So, if you do one thing today, read up on the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (or give me a call if you have a specific issue), it will hopefully result in a realisation that a process that previously was riddled with legal jargon and difficulties are now neatly summed up in one Act.