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We're dedicated to empowering businesses when it comes to understanding the law and ensuring you’re compliant. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is a pivotal piece of legislation that businesses trading goods, services and digital content need to fully understand. 

What is the Consumer Rights Act 2015?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA 2015) is a landmark piece of UK legislation that came into force on October 1, 2015. It plays a fundamental role in protecting consumers and regulating business-to-consumer relationships. 

Why was the Consumer Rights Act 2015 introduced?

The introduction of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 aimed to create a modern and unified framework for consumer rights. It consolidated and replaced several existing laws, simplifying and clarifying the legal landscape for both consumers and businesses. The 2015 Act also addressed the evolving nature of commerce, especially the growth of e-commerce, by including reference to digital content and services.

The Act's objectives include promoting transparency, fairness and a balance of rights and responsibilities between consumers and businesses. The CRA 2015 is part of the UK government's broader efforts to ensure that consumers are protected and that businesses operate ethically and responsibly.

What did the Consumer Rights Act 2015 replace?

The CRA 2015 replaced key elements of two previous acts: the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. It also consolidated laws concerning unfair terms in consumer contracts.

The replacement of large sections of these older acts aimed to provide a more comprehensive and up-to-date legal framework that accommodates the changing landscape of commerce and the evolving needs of consumers.

How does the Consumer Rights Act 2015 affect businesses?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 legislation applies to all traders who engage in activities related to their trade, business, craft or profession. 

In legal terms, a 'trader' is defined as "a person acting for purposes relating to that person's trade, business, craft or profession." This applies regardless of whether the trader is acting personally or through another individual on their behalf.

A 'consumer' is defined as "an individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual's trade, business, craft or profession." In simple terms, a consumer is someone buying goods, services or digital content for personal use, rather than for professional or business purposes.

What does the Consumer Rights Act 2015 cover?

The CRA 2015 is divided into three parts, each with distinct coverage:

Part one

This section outlines a consumer's statutory rights in contracts for goods, services and digital content supplied by a trader. These rights become contractual terms, setting the standard that all goods and services, physical or digital, must meet.

Part two 

Part two imposes a fairness test, mandates transparency in written terms, and includes a list of terms likely to be deemed unfair. It applies to consumer contracts and notices given by traders to consumers.

Part three 

This section covers various general and miscellaneous matters, such as enforcement, private actions in competition law, and specific duties like those of letting agents regarding publishing fees or providing information about sporting, cultural and recreation event tickets.

In essence, the CRA 2015 encompasses a wide range of consumer rights, including the right to have goods and services that are fit for purpose, as described and of satisfactory quality.

Does the Consumer Rights Act 2015 cover breaches of contract?

The CRA 2015 has significant implications for breaches of contract. If a trader fails to fulfil their legal obligations, the Act provides consumers with a range of remedies, depending on the severity of the breach and the circumstances. These remedies may include:

  • A full refund for goods that are of poor quality, unfit for their intended purpose or not as described, within the first 30 days
  • The opportunity for the retailer to repair or replace the product within 30 days to six months
  • If repairing or replacing the product is not possible, consumers are entitled to a full refund
  • After six months, the burden of proof shifts to the consumer to demonstrate that the product is defective
  • If successful, the retailer must be given one opportunity to repair or replace it before a partial refund can be claimed (taking into account the use the consumer has had)

These provisions ensure that businesses fulfil their contractual obligations and provide consumers who enter into a contract with adequate protection in case of contract breaches.

Who enforces the Consumer Rights Act 2015?

Enforcement of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 is a complex process, involving various entities:

  1. Consumers – individuals have the right to enforce their rights under the CRA 2015. If they believe a product or service does not meet the statutory requirements, they can seek remedies and take the matter to court if necessary.
  2. Trading StandardsTrading Standards play a vital role in monitoring and enforcing the Act. They investigate potential breaches of consumer protection law and take action against businesses when required.
  3. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) – the CMA is a governmental body responsible for promoting competition and ensuring that markets operate fairly for consumers. They also have the power to take enforcement action against businesses for non-compliance.
  4. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) – ADR entities provide an alternative to court action for resolving consumer disputes. Traders must inform consumers of an ADR provider for resolving disputes without going to court.

How has the Consumer Rights Act 2015 impacted e-commerce?

The rise of e-commerce has dramatically changed the landscape of business-to-consumer interactions. The CRA 2015 has adapted to these changes, extending its reach to cover digital content and services, which are central components of the e-commerce industry.

One significant impact of the Act on e-commerce is that consumers now have certain statutory rights with regards to digital content, such as online music, e-books, films and games. Digital content must be of satisfactory quality, fit for its intended purpose and conform with the description provided by the business.

Where the buyer can demonstrate that the digital content does not conform to the above requirements, they are entitled to a repair or replacement. If repair or replacement of the digital content is not possible, the price may be reduced or refunded entirely.

These provisions emphasise the importance of providing high-quality digital content and services in the e-commerce industry while maintaining transparency and fairness in contractual terms.

Get legal support from LawBite

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is a landmark piece of legislation that shapes the relationship between consumers and businesses, providing a framework for fair practices and transparent transactions. By understanding its provisions, you can position your small business for success while ensuring that your customers are treated with fairness and respect.

If consumer rights feel complex and you want to protect your business, having access to legal experts through LawBite can make a difference. We’re here to guide you; offering practical legal solutions and empowering your business with the knowledge and expertise necessary to thrive. 

To speak to one of our expert lawyers about consumer protection and laws, book a free 15 minute consultation or call us on 020 3808 8314.


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In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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