The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) will get beefed-up enforcement powers for faulty goods or services under the Consumer Rights Bill 2021, which has been sent out for consultation.
The proposed scheme of modernisation and consolidation of consumer protection legislation was published yesterday (20 May).
Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation Robert Troy (pictured) said the scheme represented the most far-reaching reform of consumer law in decades, making consumer protection legislation easier to navigate, simpler to understand, and with strengthened protections for consumers.
It would also create clearer rules for businesses and assist them in dealings with consumers.
Digital content and services
The bill also gives effect to the provisions of two new EU directives on contracts for the sale of goods and contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services.
The proposed law also gives consumers similar rights for downloaded content with physical properties, such as CDs and DVDs.
New ground is also being broken on digital content and digital services on contracts providing personal data to the trader.
The bill proposes to replace a number of overlapping and complicated provisions in primary, secondary and European legislation currently in place.
IIn May 2019, Directive (EU) 2019/770 on contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services, and Directive (EU) 2019/771 on contracts for the sale of goods, were adopted.
The bill provides for a number of enhanced statutory protections for consumers, including:
- New statutory rights and remedies in contracts for digital content (for example, audio and video files, computer games) and digital services (for example, streaming services, cloud computing, social media), and includes contracts in which the consumer provides personal data to the supplier of the digital content or digital service rather than paying a monetary price,
- Strengthened consumer rights relating to the quality, fitness for purpose and other aspects of services and, for the first time, statutory remedies for consumers where the services supplied by providers do not comply with those quality and other standards,
- Stronger transparency requirements for terms and conditions in standard form consumer contracts, and for the first time a ‘blacklist’ of contract terms that are always unfair,
- New enforcement powers for the CCPC where traders do not provide the remedies or reimbursement to which consumers are entitled under the act.
Minister Troy said the bill represented the most substantial reform of consumer contract law in 40 years, and urged businesses, consumers and other interested parties to respond to the consultation on the scheme of the proposed bill.
The consultation will close on Wednesday, 30 June, with the target for enactment of the new legislation by Q4 2021.
The scheme brings together in a single statute provisions that are currently contained in a number of different enactments or, as is the case with the provisions on digital content and digital services, deal with matters that are not currently subject to statutory regulation:
- Part 2 provides for the rights and remedies in consumer contracts for the sale of goods,
- Part 3 provides for the rights and remedies in consumer contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services,
- Part 4 provides for the rights and remedies in consumer contracts for the supply of non-digital services,
- Parts 5 and 6 provides for consumer information and related rights and consumer rights on the cancellation of distance and off-premises contracts,
- Part 7 provides for unfair terms in consumer contracts,
- Part 8 sets out the enforcement powers and penalties under the scheme,
- Part 9 contains the various amendments to the Consumer Protection Act 2007, required to transpose amendments to the Unfair Commercial Practice Directive,
- Part 10 provides for a number of amendments to other consumer protection enactments.
When enacted, the act will:
- Repeal one act in full and a further five acts in part, and revoke five statutory instruments,
- Modernise and consolidate the rights and remedies for consumers across the full range of consumer contracts,
- Provide important new protections for consumers in online contracts and digital transactions, and
- Give significant new enforcement powers and options to the CCPC.