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Greene & Greene is a long established firm of solicitors based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Our lawyers advise individuals and businesses based all over the UK.

We regularly attract new clients who have been using firms in London, but now receive a more cost efficient and more personal service from us here in Bury St Edmunds.

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Entries in Consumer (3)

Wednesday
Dec022015

Alternative Dispute Resolution for Traders and Consumers - The New Law

Alternative dispute resolution (commonly referred to as ADR) is the process whereby an independent and impartial third party (an ADR provider) considers the evidence in a dispute and makes a decision or brokers a settlement between the parties.  ADR offers the parties to a dispute an alternative to pursuing what could be a protracted and costly case through the Courts.

In 2015 ADR for Consumer Disputes Regulations have been passed and apply to all businesses in the UK that sell goods, services or digital content to consumers (except health professionals).  In particular, with effect from the 1 October 2015, all traders selling to consumers are required to give certain information to consumers if, having received a complaint from the consumer, they have been unable to resolve that complaint through their internal complaints process.  The information that must be given includes:

  •             details of a certified ADR provider to whom the dispute or complaint could be referred; and
  •             confirmation of whether the trader intends, or is obliged, to use that provider.

For certain traders (including those in sectors such as financial services, energy and communications), their regulators or trade bodies already require them to offer ADR, and where this is the case, those traders must provide further information in their terms and conditions.  This review and update should take place immediately.  For all other traders, ADR is not mandatory, and they are only required to provide the required information at the end of the complaints process.  These traders should review their procedures for dealing with customer complaints or disputes to ensure that they are regulation compliant.

Irrespective of that, it is important that traders do give serious consideration and take legal advice if necessary before rejecting ADR as the Courts have recently ordered that an unreasonable failure to engage in ADR could result in that party being penalised at the conclusion of the trial i.e. you could win your case but not recover costs if you have unreasonably rejected ADR.

There will be further demands placed on traders in January 2016 when the European Commission will set up the Online Dispute Resolution platform (ODR).  This will allow consumers who have a complaint about a product or service bought online to submit the complaint via an online complaint form to a trader based in another European country.  From 9 January 2016 all online traders must include a link on their website to the ODR platform, which will be in addition to the requirement to give details on the website of the named certified ADR provider. 

For more information on ADR or a dispute that you may have, please contact Henry Nydam in our dispute resolution department on 01284 717433 or by email: henrynydam@greene-greene.com.  For more information on Greene & Greene go to www.greene-greene.com and follow us on Twitter @greenegreenelaw. 

 

Monday
Oct262015

Businesses Beware - New Rights for Consumers

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force on 1 October 2015, with implications for all business which provide goods or services to consumers, particularly affecting those who sell:

  • to consumers online, via telephone or email; and
  • in a consumer’s home or place of work.

Under the Act, a consumer is any “individual acting for purposes that are wholly or mainly outside that individual's trade, business, craft or profession.”  This new definition means that customers or clients who act partly for business purposes but mainly for personal purposes are now caught within the definition of consumer.

As well as consolidating much of the previous law relating to consumers’ rights and remedies against businesses, the new Act clarifies certain rights of consumers, and introduces a number of new remedies. These changes include:

  • the right for consumers to reject faulty or damaged goods within 30 days of the date of purchase or date of delivery - even if the goods are not rejected in this time, consumers have up to 6 months from the date of purchase or delivery to ask a retailer to repair or replace a faulty item, and if the retailer does not or cannot do this, the consumer can ask for the price to be reduced, or to return the goods;
  • goods must now be delivered by retailers within 30 days of the consumer’s order being accepted, unless a longer delivery period has been agreed with the consumer at the time of order;
  • increased rights for consumers in relation to defective ‘digital content’ which includes software provided on a CD and also downloaded software and files such as videos and music files. Digital content must be of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose, and if it is not, consumers can ask for a price reduction, repair or replacement, or (in certain cases) a refund; and  
  • the clear right for consumers to request re-performance of services where these services have not been carried out correctly.  Also, any business providing services to consumers must provide the service within a reasonable time of the consumer placing the order, unless a set period was agreed at the outset.

The Act is a culmination of various changes to the laws concerning consumer rights in the past two years, including an expansion of the previous distance selling rules. All businesses which deal with consumers, and particularly those mentioned above, should carefully review their Terms & Conditions and selling practices to ensure that they comply with the new rules.

If you are a business selling to consumers and would like advice on how the new Act affects you, please contact Andrew Cooper in the commercial team at Greene & Greene on 01284 717511 or by email at andrewcooper@greene-greene.com.

Tuesday
Jun102014

New consumer contract rules come into force

On 13th June 2014 the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 will come into force and will apply to all businesses who sell goods or services to consumers. Any businesses that fail to comply with these regulations could face significant consequences.

The new rules predominantly affect businesses which sell their goods or services to consumers remotely (such as though websites, or by email, telephone or post) and/or who agree to sell goods or services during meetings with consumers away from the business’ premises. This last category catches not only the traditional door-to-door salesman, but also all other businesses which meet with their customers in their homes or places of work, such as tradesmen and professional advisors.

Businesses to whom the regulations will apply are required to provide certain information to their consumer customers before, and after, entering a contract or agreement with them. Consumers are also given a 14 day cooling-off period, which has been extended from seven days under the current rules. Businesses which do not provide the necessary information could find that their consumer customers can return goods for a full refund over 12 months after they were originally supplied, or refuse to pay for services that the business has already provided (even if there is nothing wrong with them). The business may also commit a criminal offence and be liable to a fine.

Please contact Andrew Cooper (details below) for a more detailed briefing note on this new legislation and its effect on your business. All businesses which deal with consumers should review their websites, practices and terms and conditions in light of these new rules to ensure that they do not get caught out. Greene & Greene are happy to assist with this process.

If you require further information about this topic, please contact Andrew Cooper on andrewcooper@greene-greene.com or 01284 717511.