The issue in this question is related with the implied terms concerning the sale of goods and the supply of services. For this purpose, the provisions of Consumer Rights Act, 2015 need to be considered.
Consumer Rights Act, 2015 had been introduced by the government for the purpose of consolidating and overhauling the earlier consumer rights legislation in the UK that was considered to be confusing and fragmented. This legislation came into force on 1st October, 2015. This legislation replaces 8 existing laws, which includes the Sale of Goods Act, 1979 and also the Supply of Goods and Services Act, 1982.
Therefore in context of sale and supply of goods, the law provides that terms can be implied in consumer contracts according to which the (i) goods should be of satisfactory quality (ii) fit for a particular purpose and (iii) match the description shown to the consumer. In this regard, the Act provides that any pre-contact information like the details on payment, delivery and after sales service are also covered by the implied terms related with the contract (Avi,Cherrier and Canniford, 2006). In case the goods are found to be faulty or do not match the description, a short term right has been provided to the consumer according to which the goods can be rejected by the consumer within 30 days unless in case of perishable goods, where the expected shelf life of goods is shorter. Similarly, a right is also available to the consumers according to which they can make a request that the faulty or wrongly described goods need to be replaced or repaired. This provision is applicable even after the expiry of the 30 day right to reject the goods. Another right available to the consumers is to seek reduction in the price of goods or to reject the goods after they have made an unsuccessful attempt of replacing or repairing the goods.
The burden of proof in such cases lies on the consumer for establishing that the goods are not according to the contract if the consumer wants to exercise their short-term right to reject the goods or if after the expiry of more than six months, the consumer will be required to establish that the defect was present in the goods when they were delivered.
As is the case with the implied terms that were present under the Sale of Goods Act,. The law requires that the word should be of a particular standard. Therefore in this regard, it has been provided by the Consumer Rights Act that all the goods that have been supplied in accordance with the consumer contract need to be:-
- Of satisfactory quality;
- Fit for purpose;
- Match the description, model or sample; and
- They should be installed properly (if it is a part of contract).
Rights of consumers regarding return of goods. The consumers have an initial right of rejecting the goods. Automatically there is a period of 30 days to return the goods in case the goods failed to meet the implied terms unless the expected life of the goods is less than 30 days. This right allows the consumers to have complete refund of 100%. The rights of the consumers related with repair or replacement. In case the lapse of the period of 30 days or during this period, the consumer has decided that they are not going to exercise the right of rejecting the goods, the consumers will be entitled in the first instances to claim replacement or repair of goods (Ashlee and Grayson, 2008). There they will be considered to be a failure if after making an attempt related with repair or replacement of the goods, the goods still fail to meet the required conditions. The next right is related with production of price and the final right to reject the goods. In case repair or replacement of the goods is not available or remains unsuccessful for the consumer, the consumers are allowed by the law to blame a reduction in price or the final right to reject the goods. The refund or the reduction can go up to 100 percent of the value of the product.
However, it needs to be noted that the rights of the consumers mentioned above are subject to the below mentioned exclusions. Therefore the law provides that before contract (i) when the defects present in the goods have been brought to the notice of the consumer, or if the goods have been examined by the consumer and any such defects would have been obvious; (ii) when the consumer has a change of mind regarding the desire for the goods; (iii) or if the product was used for a particular purpose that is neither obvious nor made known to the trader; (iv), where the goods appeared due to fair wear and tear (this is applicable only six months after the goods have been supplied to the consumer).
In the present case, the television set purchase by John has been described as, of being excellent quality, durable and good value for money. However, just after three weeks, there was a flash and smoke coming out of the back of the television set. However, when John informed the departmental store, they claimed that at the time of the installation of the television set, it was working well. Moreover, a document was signed by John, given to him by the engineers wherein it was mentioned that everything was okay. Moreover, the departmental store also pointed out towards a clause present in the contractual document signed by John where it was stated that the store cannot be held responsible for the malfunctioning of goods after they have been supplied and installed. Under these circumstances, John wants to know if any remedies are available to him under the law. In view of the legal provisions mentioned above, it can be said that Consumer Rights Act, 2015 provides a remedy to the consumers including John in the present case.
In the present case, the Act allows John to reject the televisionand claim a refund of the price of the television set.
According to the Consumer Rights Act, the meaning of goods is any tangible, movable item. This includes gas, water and electricity only if these items have been supplied in a set quantity. All the contracts related with the supply of goods by the trader to the consumer fall under the purview of the Act. Therefore, it includes the sales, higher purchase and hire contracts. Although there are certain limited exceptions present in this regard. For example, the chattel mortgages, the sale of secondhand goods that have been sold during a public auction that can be attended by individuals in persons, the official sale of the property of a bankrupt and some other exceptions. Most of the provisions that have been mentioned in the Act consolidated the provisions of current law. For example, the statutory implied terms related with fitness for purpose, satisfactory quality and that the goods are going to match the description etc. However it is worth mentioning that several new provisions have also been incorporated (Fitchett and Ming, 2008).
For a number of years, the consumers who are purchasing traditional goods have taken the advantage of statutory remedies in case the terms have been breached by the supplier that can be implied in a contract of sale related with the goods. These remedies have been updated by the Consumer Rights Act, particularly with the help of the creation of a new short-term right, which allows the consumers to reject the goods and this legislation has also clarified the tiered structure regarding different remedies available to the consumers. At the same time, this legislation also extends several existing statutory remedies so that they may also include digital content and it also creates the remedies related with digital content as well as the services that have been supplied to the consumers.
A major change has been introduced with the enforcement of Consumer Rights Act, 2015. This change is related with the remedies that are available to the consumers. Therefore, briefly speaking, the legislation provides short cuts to the consumers to claim compensation. Therefore, if the goods turn out to be of unsatisfactory quality, the consumer may reject the goods and return them. In such a case, it is the responsibility of the business to collect the goods. However in this case, it is required that the consumer has not kept the goods for unreasonably long period. In this way, the Consumer Rights Act has introduced certainty and clarity regarding the remedies that are available to the consumers (Laczniak, Gene and Patrick, 2006). Therefore, in case of goods the Act provides that turns can still be implied in the consumer contracts according to which the goods should be as described, fit for a particular purpose and of satisfactory quality (Nill and Schibrowsky, 2007). The Act includes the terms that can be implied in consumer contracts. For example, it is required that the goods will match the model that has been examined by the consumer before the contract unless any major difference has been brought to the attention of the consumer before the contract. According to the Consumer Contracts Regulations, 2013 the changes are required to give specified the contractual information to the consumers in some cases. For example, this includes the details related with payment and delivery arrangements at the details of office sales service. According to the 2015 legislation, the pre-contact information has become an implied term of the contract. Similarly if the goods have been installed by the trader, it will be considered that the goods do not conform to contact if they have been installed incorrectly.
Short-term right to reject: this short-term right has been provided to the consumers to reject the faulty goods or the goods. That does not match the description within 30 days.
Repair or replacement: a guide has been provided to the consumers according to which they can make a request that for the goods or the goods that do not match the description should be repaired or replaced. This request can be made even after the expiry of the 30 days.
Final right to reject: a right has been provided to the consumers to seek reduction in the price or to reject the goods after one instance of unsuccessful replacement or repair.
As is the case with Sale of Goods Act, the Consumer Rights Act also requires that the products should be of satisfactory quality, matched the description and fit for purpose. These rules are also applicable in case of digital content. Therefore all the products, whether they are physical or digital, should fulfill the standards mentioned below.
Satisfactory quality: the goods should not be faulty or damaged when they are received by the consumers. In this regard, it can be seen if any reasonable person would consider it to be satisfactory for the particular goods.
Fit for purpose: the Consumer Rights Act also requires that the goods should be fit for the purpose for which they have been supplied to the consumers. At the same time the goods should also be fit for any particular purpose that has been told to the retailer by the consumer before agreeing to purchase the goods.
Match the description: it is also required under the law that the goods supplied to the consumer should match the description that has been given to the consumer or any sample or model that has been shown to the consumer before purchasing the goods.
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