Consumer Protection

EU Directive Enhancing Consumer Rights Re Goods

A European Union Directive on the Sale of Consumer Goods and Guarantees provides additional rights to those in the Sale of Goods Act. The European Union Directive provides minimum standards across the EU, irrespective of what EU country’s laws apply. The EU consumer may not be deprived of his rights by providing that the law of a non-EU state applies.

The Directive is implemented by Regulations made in 2002. Consumer goods cover most tangible, movable items.  A consumer is a natural person (i.e. not a company) acting outside of his trade business or profession.  The Regulations extend to contracts for the supply of consumer goods which are to be manufactured or produced.

The rights under the Regulations are in addition to and do not substitute for the existing sale of goods, unfair contract or other consumer protection legislation. The level of protection provided by the Regulations may be greater than that provided by the above legislation. The consumer may opt to invoke either the Regulations or the other protection.    The Regulations are not to be interpreted in the manner which diminishes the consumer’s rights under other legislation.


Conformity I

Consumer goods delivered under the sale contract must be in conformity with the contract.  They are presumed to be in conformity if they comply with the description given by the seller and possess the qualities of the goods which the seller has held out to the consumer or as a sample or model.

The goods must be fit for any particular purpose for which the consumer requires them and which he has made known to the seller at the time of conclusion of the contract and which the seller has accepted.

The goods must be fit for the purpose for which goods of the same type are normally used.  They must exhibit the quality and performance which are normal for those type of goods and which the consumer can reasonably expect, given the nature of the goods and taking into account any public statement on specific characteristics of the goods made by the seller or the producer or their representatives, particularly in advertising or labelling.


Conformity II

A seller is not bound by a public statement, if he shows that he was not and could not reasonably be expected to have been aware of the statement, shows that at the time of conclusion of the contract, the statement had been corrected or shows that the decision to buy the goods could not have been influenced by the statement.

Terms or agreements concluded with the seller before the lack of conformity has been brought to the seller’s attention, which purports directly or indirectly to waive or restrict the rights under the above Regulations are not binding on the consumer


Conformity Issues

There is not deemed to be a lack of conformity, if at the time the contract was concluded, the consumer was aware or ought reasonably to have been aware of the lack of conformity or if the lack of conformity had its origin in material supplied by the consumer.

A lack of conformity resulting from incorrect installation of consumer goods is to be deemed lack of conformity, if the installation formed part of the contract for the sale of the goods and the goods were installed by the seller or by someone for whom he is responsible.  There is also a lack of conformity where the goods are intended to be installed by the consumer and the incorrect installation is due to a shortcoming in the installation instructions.

The seller is to be liable to the consumer for a lack of conformity which existed at the time the goods were delivered.  In relation to lack of conformity, the consumer is entitled to have the goods brought into conformity, free of charge by repair or replacement or by an appropriate reduction in the price or by having the contract rescinded in relation to those goods.


Remedies for Lack of Conformity I

The consumer may require the seller to repair the goods or replace them, in either case, free of charge unless this is impossible or disproportionate.  Either may be deemed disproportionate, if

  • it imposes costs on the seller which in comparison with those associated with the other remedy available to the seller are unreasonable taking account of the value of goods if there is no lack of conformity;
  • the significance of the lack of conformity and
  • whether the alternative remedy could be completed without significant inconvenience to the consumer.

Where repair or replacement is to be provided, it must be completed within a reasonable time, without any significant inconvenience to the consumer, taking account of the nature of the goods and the purpose for which the consumer requires them. Free of charge includes costs required to bring the goods into conformity, as well as the cost of carriage, postage, labour, and materials etc.


Remedies for Lack of Conformity II

The consumer may require an appropriate reduction in price or have the contract rescinded, if he is entitled to neither repair nor replacement, or if the seller has not completed the repair or replacement within a reasonable time or without significant inconvenience to the consumer.  This does not apply if the lack of conformity is minor.

Where a lack of conformity becomes apparent within six months of delivery, unless otherwise proved, it is presumed to have existed at the time of delivery.  This does not apply if, by reason of the nature of the goods concerned or the nature of the lack of conformity, it would not be reasonable to infer that lack of conformity exists at the earlier stage.


References and Sources

Irish Texts

Brian Doolan, A Casebook on Irish Business Law (1989)

Henry Ellis, Modern Irish Commercial and Consumer Law (2004)

Michael Forde, Commercial Law, 3rd Edition (2005)

Linehan, Irish Business and Commercial Law (1995)

McCormack, Reservation of Title 1990 (1994)

Patrick O’Reilly (ed.), Commercial and Consumer Law  (Statutes) (2000)

Sean Quinn (ed.), Statutes Revised on Commercial Law, 1695-1913 (1994)

Fidelma White, Commercial Law (2003) (2nd Ed 2012)

Fidelma White, Commercial and Economic Law In Ireland (2011)

Vincent Grogan, Thelma King and Edward J. Donelan, Sale of Goods and Supply of Services: A Guide to the Legislation (Law Society of Ireland, 1983)

Paul Anthony McDermott, Contract Law (Butterworths, Dublin, 2001)

2011 Report of the Sales Law Review Group,

UK texts

Atiyah and Adam’s Sale of Goods 13th Ed (2016)

Bridge, Benjamin’s Sale of Goods 9th Ed (2015);

Bridge, The Sale of Goods 3rd Ed (2014)

Blackstones’ Statutes Commercial and Consumer Law 2017

Goode on Commercial Law 5th Ed 2017

Legislation

Sale of Goods Act 1893

Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980

Electronic Commerce Act 2000

Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act 2001 (50/2001)

International Carriage of Goods by Road Act 1990 (13/1990)

European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) Regulations 2013 (S.I. No. 484 of 2013)

European Communities (Certain Aspects of the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 11 of 2003)