The law is changing – are your T&Cs ready?

As from 1 October 2015, new legislation is coming into force which will have a direct impact on how consumer-facing businesses deal with their customers.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 aims to consolidate existing legislation and regulations and enhance consumer rights. It, together with various new and amended consumer regulations which have been implemented over the last couple of years, make up the biggest reform in consumer protection legislation in over 30 years.

With the biggest piece of the jigsaw puzzle now in place it is vital that businesses (now referred to as traders in the new legislation) use this as an opportunity to review your sales processes and procedures, including your:

  • terms and conditions for the supply of goods, services and/or digital content;
  • marketing and sales communications;
  • consumer remedies and refund policies; and
  • staff training.

This change in legislation requires attention and action from all traders which sell directly or indirectly to consumers.

What’s changing?

  • The type of information and the importance of the information provided before and after a sale, including information given in marketing and sales communications, your T&Cs and verbal statements.
  • The right for consumers to change their mind when buying your products online.
  • A new concept of digital content, which includes apps or music, software or films via download or streaming.
  • New remedies for consumers, including a prescribed tiered remedy structure.
  • Extended unfair terms, which must not be included in your T&Cs or any consumer notices (including written notices (in-store or online), verbal announcements (e.g. your IVR / telephone scripts), advertising materials or social media statements.
  • New enforcement powers, including redress (compensation for consumers), compliance measures (to prevent future mistakes) and choice (which will give consumers more transparency when choosing between suppliers).

Why do you need to take action?

  • These changes will affect all traders which sell directly to consumers and may affect any traders which sell to other traders who ultimately sell to consumers.
  • As was the case previously, consumer protection legislation cannot be contracted out of.
  • Remedies for consumers have been extended and so you need to ensure that you are providing at least the minimum which is required by law. This is particularly important for those who sell online.
  • Your sales team need to be aware of the changes, particularly those relating to information given to consumers and remedies available to consumers.
  • There is now a wider range of enforcement actions which can be used when traders are not complying with legislation, which include criminal and civil actions against the trader and individuals (directors or officers). This is in addition to reputational damage which could follow from any major non-compliance with the new legislation.

What do you need to do next?

  • Dig out your terms and conditions and review them (or ask us to…)
  • Look at all your marketing and sales communications – the new legislation applies to these to!
  • If you sell online or via telephone, analyse your online / phone sales processes and consider how these need to be changed.
  • Review your complaints handing procedures and refund processes.
  • Consider what training your staff need.

Contact us :-

  • if you have any questions about these important changes and what you need to do to ensure compliance;
  • if you want us to review your T&Cs, sales communications or online / phone processes; and/or
  • if you think it would be useful for us to run an in-house training seminar for your team.

All of the above is a general summary of what is changing and the actions you need to take. It is not intended to cover all the recent changes in consumer law and we recommend that you obtain specific legal advice if you have any questions or concerns about your current sales practices.

For information/advice on Corporate / Commercial, please contact:

Sheldon Cordellsac@joelsonwilson.com
Phil Hails-Smith – pps@joelsonwilson.com
Paul Chiappepac@joelsonwilson.com
Philippa Sturt – pbs@joelsonwilson.com
Hayley Cross – hc@joelsonwilson.com

View The law is changing – are your T&Cs ready PDF version

This article is for reference purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action.