When a business uses consumer contracts for the supply of goods or services, it needs to be aware of the far-reaching consumer protection laws that provide consumers with rights that cannot be varied or contracted out of. Our commercial team includes several consumer law specialists who regularly assist businesses in all matters of consumer contracts. We will ensure you have comprehensive terms and conditions in place that are legally compliant and protect your business against consumer claims.
UK consumer law
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into effect on 1 October 2015 consolidating three significant pieces of consumer law legislation: the Sale of Goods Act 1979, the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999 and the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. The 2015 Act provides more straightforward and powerful rules on consumers’ rights.
Unfair contract terms
The Consumer Rights Act 2015 provides enhanced protection for customers concerning unfair contract terms. Certain terms are automatically considered unfair, such as any attempts to limit a consumer’s legal rights, while others may be regarded as unfair depending on the circumstances. If a term is assessed as unfair, it will not only be unenforceable but could have a negative impact on your business’ reputation.
If a consumer believes a contract term is unfair, they may make a written complaint to your business. If you disagree with the consumer and this causes a dispute, there are many different routes for dealing with the issue, for example by negotiation, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) or court proceedings. Our contract dispute solicitors provide practical advice to businesses involved in a dispute regarding potentially unfair contract terms. We aim to avoid court action as far as possible as this can be a costly and lengthy process and can cause harm to your business. In every case, we will focus on protecting your business objectives.
Guidance for consumer contracts
The most effective way to avoid an unfair contract term dispute is to ensure your contracts are well-drafted, precise and legally compliant. In particular, you should ensure that:
- the terms are clear, simple and jargon-free;
- the obligations imposed on the consumer are reasonable (including costs, time limits and procedural steps);
- there are no hidden fees or charges; and
- you take particular care with any terms that could work against the consumer, such as cancellation fees and limiting your liability.
There is a lot to consider when creating consumer contracts to ensure your terms are enforceable. Our lawyers are here to provide expert advice and drafting support tailored to your business needs.
Contact our Commercial Solicitors Sheffield
At Ironmonger Curtis with Bell & Buxton, our lawyers can help your business draft effective and compliant consumer contracts. It is vital that the terms promote your commercial objectives but also protect your business against legal action and negative PR. If a dispute does arise, we can provide quick, strategic legal advice to defend your business against a consumer claim.
Our business solicitors are based in Sheffield and advise clients in Rotherham, Chesterfield, Barnsley, Dronfield and further afield. Call us on 0114 249 59 69 to find out how we can help or fill in our online contact form and we will get back to you shortly.