Perceived inconsistencies in Consumer Rights Bill level playing field, says Eversheds’ Gough

The UK Business Select Committee has raised concerns that there is an inconsistency in the proposed UK Consumer Bill Of Rights, regarding the provision of digital content. Matthew Gough, head of consumer law at Eversheds, has commented.

He said: ‘The perceived inconsistency referred to in the proposed Consumer Rights Bill is the fact that someone who bought a faulty CD would be entitled to a refund, but those who purchase a faulty download would not receive a refund.’ However, he added, while the Business Select Committee is correct that the remedies are different in each circumstance, this is the intention behind the draft bill.

‘Earlier this year in June, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills [BIS] explained this difference when it released the draft bill, by stating that digital content that is not provided on a tangible medium cannot be returned in a meaningful sense. The key point for consumers is that the new proposed statutory rights for digital products for the first time align consumers’ rights, whether products such as music, software, videos and games are purchased on a disc or purchased online.’

According to Gough, where a product is provided digitally, the first remedy available to the consumer is a repair or replacement of the digital product due to BIS’s explanation regarding the return of such products. ‘Even then the consumer will still be entitled to a refund if the trader cannot subsequently repair or replace the digital content,’ he said.