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Consultation on the Scheme of a proposed Consumer Rights Bill

The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has published for public consultation the Scheme of a proposed Consumer Rights Bill May 2015. Its publication follows the Department’s Consultation Paper on Reform of the Law on Consumer Contract Rights.

The Scheme sets out the rights of consumers, and the remedies where those rights are breached, in contracts for (i) all forms of goods transactions (sale, hire, hire purchase, exchange); (ii) digital content; and (iii) services. It also incorporates revised and strengthened provisions on unfair terms in consumer contracts. The Scheme further provides for the extension of certain provisions of the European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 484 of 2013) to contracts currently outside the scope of the Regulations, such as healthcare, social services and gambling.

The proposed Bill represents the most substantial reform of consumer law in forty years or more. Its main aims are, first, to consolidate in a single modernised enactment provisions currently spread over a number of different pieces of primary and secondary legislation, some of which date from the late 19th century. Its second main aim is to address the significant gaps in the protections afforded consumers by existing legislation, among them:

  • the absence of statutory rules on the rights of consumers, and the obligations of traders, in respect of digital content supplied by means of downloads, streaming or other intangible media, and of a statutory scheme of remedies for breaches of such rules;
  • the limited statutory rights for consumers in services contracts and the absence of a statutory scheme of remedies for breaches of those rights;
  • the absence of a statutory scheme of remedies for breaches of the rules on the quality and other aspects of goods supplied under consumer hire and hire-purchase contracts and exchange transactions;
  • the absence of specific statutory rights for purchases of gift cards and vouchers.

Though the Department is committed to introducing a Consumer Rights Bill along the lines outlined in the Scheme, the provisions of the Scheme are subject to review in the light of the responses to the present consultation. The Department would accordingly encourage consumers and consumer organisations, businesses and business bodies, and other interested parties to submit their views on the Scheme of the proposed Bill.

Businesses or other stakeholders who are likely to be affected only by specific provisions of the proposed Bill are free to confine their responses to those aspects. The Department will fully assess all responses to the present consultation before finalising the Scheme for submission to Government. These responses will also be an important input into the regulatory impact analysis being prepared on the proposed Bill.

Responses to the consultation should be returned by e-mail with Consultation on Consumer Rights Bill in the subject line to conspol@djei.ie, or by post to Competition and Consumer Policy Section, Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Earlsfort Centre, Lower Hatch Street, Dublin 2 by close of business, Friday 28 August 2015. Queries about the consultation can be addressed to the Department’s Competition and Consumer Policy Section by email at conspol@djei.ie or by phone at (01) 6312652.

Responses to the consultation on the Scheme of the proposed Bill will be published on the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation website. Any material contained in submissions to the consultation which respondents do not wish to be made public in this way should be clearly identified as confidential in the submission. Respondents should also be aware that submissions may be disclosed by the Department in response to requests under the Freedom of Information Acts 1997-2003. Any information that is regarded as commercially sensitive should be clearly identified and the reason for its sensitivity stated. In the event of a request under the Freedom of Information Acts, the Department will consult with respondents about information identified as commercially sensitive before making a decision on a freedom of information request.

Related links

European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013

Consumer Protection Act 2007 (No 19 of 2007)

Sales Law Review Group

Published by Commerce, Consumer and Competition

Topics: Your Consumer Rights