A consultation on the new Consumer Rights Bill has been announced by Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD. The scheme for the Bill was published earlier today, with the Minister seeking input as to how the Bill’s provisions might affect transactions across various areas of the economy.
The aim of the new Bill is to harmonise consumer law in Ireland. As it stands, this is made up of multiple pieces of legislation from primary, secondary, and European sources. The multitude of legislation can leave consumers and businesses confused as to which rules apply in a given situation, and as such the Consumer Rights Bill is intended to make things clearer by streamlining existing laws.
A number of new consumer rights are envisaged under the Bill –
- Expiry dates – the Bill will ban expiry dates on gift cards and vouchers.
- Downloads – consumers who download or stream digital content will be able to avail of statutory rights and remedies for the first time.
- Services – rights for consumers who purchase services will be strengthened under the Bill. A right of repair or refund for substandard services will be introduced.
- Goods – the Bill envisages a standard 30-day period during which consumers may return faulty goods and get a full refund.
- Gifts – consumers who receive items as gifts will have the same rights as the purchaser of the gift.
- Unfair terms – the list of contract terms which are presumed to be unfair will be expanded, and the rules on unfair contract terms will apply to negotiated as well as standard contract terms.
- Information rights – consumers will gain new information rights in transactions for healthcare, social services and gambling.
Commenting on the new Bill, Minister Bruton said it was intended “to provide better rights for people in a changing environment.” He indicated that the Bill would “improve consumer rights, particularly for digital content” and “clear up the anomalies and gaps […] that have grown up through years of overlapping legislation”.
The Minister invited interested parties to submit responses to the proposed Bill, saying “We want to hear how the proposed legislative provisions would affect the parties to consumer transactions across different sectors of the economy and will consider carefully all views submitted.”
The scheme for the Bill can be accessed here. The consultation opens today, May 25th, and will continue until Friday 28th August. It is hoped that the new legislation may be enacted by mid-2016.