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This is the Second in our series of articles breaking down aspects of the Consumer Rights Act 2015. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 is now the law. From 1 October 2015 all consumer contracts will be governed by this Act.
Whilst the Act seeks to simplify and consolidate existing consumer rights, there are some sections that can be seen as creating new rights. Today’s topic is one of these.
Goods to be as described (Section 11)
Goods have always had to be accurately described. Where a nearly new or second-hand vehicle is being sold the actual description of the vehicle can clearly be ascertained prior to any sale. Where the vehicle being sold is a new or bespoke vehicle, motor traders have always faced the potential for a manufacturer to change the specification of vehicles with little or no notice. Such changes have previously been dealt with through standard terms and conditions reserving the right to change spec and then allowing consumers to cancel within a set period of any notice of change.
Unfortunately this will no longer be the case. A very small but significant change for the motor industry is section 11 (5)
“A change to any of that information, made before entering into the contract or later, is not effective unless expressly agreed between the consumer and the trader.”
From 1st October 2015 any changes to the specification of a vehicle must be expressly agreed in order to be binding. What this requires remains to be clarified. However, where the change is one that would become apparent from a reasonable inspection, should the consumer accept the vehicle this will be an express agreement.
It is advised that any sales processes are reviewed in order to ensure they remain suitable for the business needs. We would advise that any changes to vehicle specifications be drawn to the consumer’s attention in a durable media (letter or email) and that an express agreement to continue is obtained.
Furthermore we would advise that any motor trader who sells a bespoke product to a consumer reviews their contract with their supplier to ensure that, in the event the specifications change subsequent to any order, any losses sustained can be passed back to the manufacturer should the consumer cancel the order.
Paul Carroll, Solicitor, Motor Industry Legal Services