26th October 2022
Bill provides new rights over digital content and digital services and gives greater clarity to existing consumer protection legislation
Minister of State for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Dara Calleary TD, has today welcomed Oireachtas approval of the Consumer Rights Bill 2022 as an important step on the road to improving consumer rights in Ireland. The Bill will now be sent to Office of the President for signature and enactment into law.
The Bill consolidates and modernises existing consumer law and gives consumers new protections in relation to digital content as well as digital and non-digital services.
Speaking today Minister Calleary said:
“This is a good day for consumers as this Bill represents the biggest consolidation of consumer protection law in 40 years. Apart from consolidating existing rights in relation to the purchasing of goods, consumers’ rights will now also apply to digital goods and services. This means that no matter whether you buy an item in a shop or stream or download digital content or a digital service you will have the same legal rights and the same remedies when things go wrong.
“We’re also ensuring that those rights will be extended to consumers of non-digital services like professional services, personal care services or wedding photography.
“By strengthening protections for consumers and creating clearer rules for businesses, this legislation will ensure the market works fairly and effectively for everyone.”
New rights over digital content as well as digital and non-digital services
For the first time, consumers will have the same rights and protections over digital content and digital services, for example, streaming, downloads, cloud products, as traditional products.
New digital rights include: right to full refund, exchange or repair when a good or service is not as described or not fit for purpose. Consumers will be entitled to any upgrades to the product or service that are needed to ensure the goods continue to work as expected and agreed, free of charge.
These same rights and remedies will now also apply to consumers of non-digital services, for example, building works, legal or other professional services, storage facilities and personal or pet care services.
New prohibited, ‘black-listed’ terms and conditions which are automatically regarded as unfair when put in a contract. Examples include: any condition which allows a trader to unilaterally change the terms of a contract, or any provision which would indemnify a trader from harm caused by a product or service.
Businesses will also be required to set out clearly a description of the goods or services being provided, the total price of the item and the cost of delivery before entering into a contract with a consumer.
Crackdown on dishonest commercial practices
The Bill significantly strengthens the enforcement powers of the agencies responsible for upholding consumer rights such as the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg). For example, the CCPC will now be able to take enforcement action against traders who refuse or fail to provide consumers with a remedy for faulty goods or services and against traders who fail or refuse to make a reimbursement to which consumers are entitled under the law.
Companies who engage in misleading and aggressive commercial practices, such as fake reviews could be subject to fines imposed by the Courts following enforcement action taken by the CCPC.
More redress options
Instead of just exchange, refund or repair, customers will also be entitled to agree a price reduction on faulty goods, if that suits them better. They will also be entitled to withhold payment for goods partially paid for if they are not satisfied with the quality of the item received. Any form of redress must be free of charge and must be carried out as soon as possible.
Minister Calleary concluded,
“This Bill has required significant consideration due to its complexity, so I want to acknowledge the work of Deputies Bruton and Troy during their time in the Department, in developing and progressing this legislation.
“I want to also thank members of the Oireachtas for their engagement on this legislation. The cross-party support and constructive engagement on its provisions has been very welcome and signifies the importance of this Bill to Ireland, its consumers and businesses.”
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