Consumer Rights

EU Consumer Rights Directive 2011

The Consumer Rights Directive 2011 modifies and supplements the law set out in the earlier Distance Selling and Doorstep Contracts Regulations.  It is implemented in Ireland by regulations made in 2013.

There are five principal categories of transaction to which the regulations are applicable;

  • contracts for the sale of goods;
  • contracts for the supply of services;
  • contracts for the supply of digital content in an intangible medium;
  • contracts for the supply of electricity, water and gas not supplied in limited volumes or set quantities; and
  • contracts for the supply of district heating.

Different parts of the regulations apply, depending on where the contract is concluded namely, on premises, off premises or at distance.


Applies between Traders and Consumers

The regulations apply to contracts made between traders and consumers.  A trader is a person or company (corporation) acting for purposes related to his or its business, trade, craft or profession.  It includes persons acting for or on behalf of the trader.  It encompasses bodies, whether privately or publicly owned or in mixed public-private ownership. It, therefore, covers businesses ranging from sole traders and partnerships to large-scale corporations.

A consumer is defined in the same manner as in other consumer legislation.  He or she is a natural person acting outside his trade, business, craft or profession.  The courts have held in other contexts, that a person in business is not a consumer even if the transaction is not one commonly entered in the course of his particular business.

The recitals to the Directive indicate that in the case of a dual-purpose contract, for the purpose of both business and private use, where the contract is concluded for purposes partly within and partly outside the person’s trade or business, and the trade purpose is so limited as not to be predominant in the overall context of the contract, that person should be considered a consumer.


Contracts Covered and Excluded I

A sales contract under the regulations is a one under which a trader transfers or agrees to transfer the ownership of goods to a consumer in return for a price.  It includes a contract that has as its objects both goods and services.

A service contract means a contract other than a sales contract, under which the trader supplies or undertakes to supply a service to a consumer and the consumer agrees to pay a price.  The definition excludes the other types of contract referred to above, which are dealt with separately.

Many of the below areas are subject to separate regulations.  Others are ones to which there would be practical difficulties in applying the requirements of the regulations.

Contracts for passenger transport services are partly excluded.  The exclusion does not apply to certain information obligations.

States may exclude off-premises contracts from the legislation, for which the payment is less than €50. This is provided in the Irish Regulations.


Contracts Covered and Excluded II

Certain types of contracts are excluded from the regulations.  In some cases, there is other specific legislation applicable.  They include the following:

  • contracts for social services;
  • contracts for healthcare;
  • contracts for financial services;
  • contracts for gambling;
  • contracts for the creation, acquisition or transfer of immovable property or rights in immovable property;
  • contracts for the construction of new buildings or substantial conversions of existing buildings;
  • contracts letting accommodation for residential purposes;
  • contracts for the supply of package holidays and package tours;
  • contracts within the scope of legislation on timeshares, long-term holiday products,
  • resale and exchange contracts;
  • contracts by a public officeholder who has a statutory duty to be independent and impartial and who must ensure by the provision of comprehensive legal information that the consumer only concludes the contract on the basis of careful legal consideration and with knowledge of its legal scope;
  • contracts for the supply of foodstuffs, beverages or other goods intended for current consumption in the household which are physically supplied by the trader on frequent and regular rounds to the consumer’s home, residence or workplace;
  • contracts concluded by means of automatic vending machines or automated commercial premises;
  • contracts concluded with a telecommunications officer through a public pay telephone for the use of the telephone;
  • contracts concluded for the use of a single connection by telephone, Internet or fax established by the consumer.

Distance Contract

A distance contract is a contract concluded between a trader and a consumer under an organised distance sale or service provision scheme, without the simultaneous physical presence of the trader and the consumer. It is one made with the exclusive use of one or more means of distance communications, up to and including the time at which the contract is concluded.  The organised distance sale or service provision scheme need not be run by the trader.  It may include arrangements and platforms organised or managed by another and used by the trader.

The definition of a distance contract may potentially apply to a wide range of contracts.  It includes contracts made through the internet, mail-order, telephone and fax.  It may include contracts where a consumer visits the trader’s premises to gather information and later concludes a contract remotely.

A distance contract does not include

  • an agreement negotiated at the business premises and concluded by distance communication;
  • a contract initiated by distance communication but concluded at the business premises; and
  • reservations made by a consumer through distance communications to request the service such as making an appointment or booking etc. where the contract occurs after arrival at the premises.

Where the reservation constitutes the contract, the distance regulations may apply.


Distance and Off-Premises Sales

In distance and off-premises sales, the trader must provide the specified information both pre-contract and post contract. Before a consumer is bound by an off-premises contract or offer, the trader must provide specified information. Where there is right to cancel the contract, the model form of cancellation certificate must be provided.

The required information is as follows:

  • the main characteristics of the goods or services to the extent appropriate to the medium and to the goods or services concerned;
  • the identity of the trader, including the trader’s trading name;
  • if the trader is acting on behalf of another, the geographical address and identity of that other trader;
  • the geographical address at which the trader is established; the telephone number, fax and e-mail address where available, to enable the consumer to contact the trader quickly and communicate efficiently;
  • the geographical address of the place of business of the trader to which the consumer may address complaints, if different to the above;
  • where the trader acts on behalf of another, the place of business of that other, to which the consumer may address complaints;
  • the total price of the goods or services, inclusive of tax
  • where the nature of the goods or service is such that the price cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, the manner in which the price is to be calculated;
  • where applicable, additional freight, postal charges and other costs; where those charges cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, the fact that such charges may be made;

Further Required Information I

The following information is also required;

  • in the case of contracts of indeterminate duration or containing a subscription, the total cost per billing method, where contracts are charged at a fixed rate, the total monthly costs or where the total cost cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, the manner in which the price is to be calculated;
  • the cost of using the means of distance communication, used for the conclusion of the contract, where this is other than at the basic rate;
  • arrangements for the payment, delivery, performance and time by which the trader undertakes to deliver the goods or perform the service;
  • where applicable, the trader’s complaint handling policy;
  • where a right to cancel exists, the conditions, time limit, and procedures for exercising that right in accordance with the legislation;
  • where applicable, that the consumer will have to bear the cost of returning the goods in case of cancellation and in the case of distance contracts, if the goods by their nature cannot normally be returned by post, the cost of returning the goods;
  • where the consumer exercises the right to cancel after having made a request in accordance with the regulations, that the consumer is liable to pay the trader’s reasonable costs in accordance with the regulations;

Further Required Information II

The following information is also required;

  • where the right to cancel the contract does not apply under the regulations, confirmation that the consumer will not benefit from that right or where applicable, the circumstances in which the consumer loses that right;
  • in the case of a sales contract, the existence of a legal obligation on the trader to supply goods that are in conformity with the contract;
  • where applicable, the existence and conditions of customer assistance, after sale services and commercial guarantees;
  • the existence of relevant codes of practice where applicable, how copies of such codes can be obtained;
  • the duration of the contract, where applicable or if the contract is of indeterminate duration or is to be extended automatically, the conditions for terminating it;
  • where applicable, the minimum duration of the consumer’s obligations under the contract;
  • where applicable, the existence and conditions of deposit or other financial guarantees to be paid or provided by the consumer at the request of the trader;
  • were applicable, the functionality including applicable technical protection measures of digital content;
  • where applicable, any relevant interoperability of digital content with hardware and software of which the trader is or can reasonably be expected to be aware;
  • where applicable, the possibility of having recourse to an out of court complaint and redress mechanism, to which the trader is subject and the methods for having access to it.

Explicit Consent to Payment Obligation

Before a consumer is bound by a contract or an offer, the consumer’s express or explicit consent is required for any payment, additional to that for the trader’s main obligation.  Consent may not be taken from a default option which the consumer must specifically reject in order to avoid the obligation to pay. The consumer must positively agree to pay.  A pre-ticked box is accordingly not permitted in relation to the obligation to pay.


References and Sources

Irish Texts

Consumer Law Rights & Regulation    Donnelly & White (2014)

Consumer Protection Act 2007 Annotated  Bird (2008)

Consumer Rights Long (2004)

Commercial & Consumer Law: Annotated Statutes O’Reilly, P (2000)

UK Texts

Consumer Sales Law: The Law Relating to Consumer Sales and Financing of Goods 3rd ed

John MacLeod, James Devenney (2019)

Electronic Consumer Contracts in the Conflict of Laws 2nd ed Zeng Sophia Tang (2018)

The Law of Consumer Redress in an Evolving Digital Market: Upgrading from Alternative to Online Dispute Resolution Pablo Cortes (2017)

Blackstone’s Statutes on Commercial & Consumer Law 2017-2018 Francis Rose

Consumer and Trading Standards: Law and Practice 2017 Bryan Lewin, Jonathan Kirk

Woodroffe and Lowe’s Consumer Law and Practice Woodroffe and Lowe’s Consumer Law and Practice 10th ed Geoffrey Woodroffe, Chris Willett, Christian Twigg-Flesner (2016)

Butterworths Trading and Consumer Law Looseleaf Annual Subscription Deborah L. Parry, Roland Rowell (2016)

Butterworths Commercial and Consumer Law Handbook 8th ed Richard B. Mawrey, Tobias Riley-Smith (2015

Consumer and Trading Standards: Law and Practice 4th ed

Legislation

Sale of Goods Act 1893 56 & 57

Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980

The 2011 Report of the Sales Law Review Group,

Consumer Protection Act 2007 19/2007

Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 29/2014

Orders Re Price Display (retained

Prices Act 1958.

Prices (Amendment) Act 1965

Prices (Amendment) Act1972

Orders made under Prices Acts 1958 and 1965 were carried over on repeal of the 1958 and 1965 Acts by 19/2007

Prices and Charges (Tax-inclusive Statements) Order 1973, S.I.

Charges (Hairdressing) Display Order 1976, S.I. No. 156 of 1976

Retail Prices (Food in Catering Establishments) Display Order 1984, S.I. No. 213 of 1984

Consumer Information (Advertisements) (Disclosure of Business Interest) Order 1984, S.I. No. 168 of 1984417

Consumer Information (Advertisements For Concert Or Theatre Performances) Order 1997, S.I. No. 103 of 1997

Retail Price (Diesel and Petrol) Display Order 1997, S.I. No. 178 of 1997

Retail Price (Beverages in Licensed Premises) Display Order 19/2007

Consumer Information Act Orders

Consumer Information (Advertisements For Airfares) Order 2000, S.I. No. 468 of 2000

Consumer Protection Act 2007 (Commencement) Order 2007,S.I. No. 178 of 2007

Consumer Protection Act 2007 (Establishment Day) Order 2007,S.I. No. 179 of 2007

Consumer Protection (Fixed Payment Notice) Regulations 2007,S.I. No. 689 of 2007

Consumer Protection Act 2007 (National Consumer Agency) Levy Regulations 2011, S.I. No. 560 of 2011

Consumer Protection (Consumer Information) (Articles of Precious Metals) Regulations 2012, S.I. No. 143 of 2012

Consumer Protection Act 2007 (National Consumer Agency) Levy Regulations 2012, S.I. No. 435 of 2012

Consumer Protection Act 2007 (National Consumer Agency) Levy Regulations 2013, S.I. No. 409 of 2013

Consumer Protection Act 2007 (National Consumer Agency) Levy Regulations 2014, S.I. No. 458 of 2014

Consumer Protection Act 2007 (Competition and Consumer Protection Commission) Levy Regulations 2015, S.I. No. 457 of 2015

European Communities (Cooperation Between National Authorities Responsible for the

Enforcement of Consumer Protection Laws) Regulations 2006, S.I. No. 290 of 2006 [Minister

European Communities (Cooperation Between National Authorities Responsible for the

Enforcement of Consumer Protection Laws) (Amendment) Regulations 2008, S.I. No. 316 of 2008  European Communities (Single-Member Private Limited Companies)European Communities (Protection of Consumers in Respect of Contracts made by Means of Distance Communication) (Amendment) Regulations 2010, S.I. No. 370 of 2010

European Communities (Court Orders for the Protection of Consumer Interests) Regulations 2010, S.I. No. 555 of 2010

European Union (Protection of Consumers in respect of Timeshare, Long-term Holiday Product, Resale and Exchange Contracts) Regulations 2011, S.I. No. 73 of 2011

European Communities (Cooperation between National Authorities Responsible for the Enforcement of Consumer Protection Laws) (Amendment) Regulations 2012, S.I. No. 485 of 2012 [

European Union (Public Limited Companies) (Directive 2012/ European Communities (Cooperation between National Authorities Responsible for the Enforcement of Consumer Protection Laws) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, S.I. No. 122 of 2013

European Communities (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, S.I. No. 160 of 2013

European Communities (Cooperation between National Authorities Responsible for the Enforcement of Consumer Protection Laws) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2013, S.I. No. 200 of 2013

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

European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, S.I. No. 250 of 2014

European Communities (Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts) (Amendment) Regulations 2014, S.I. No. 336 of 2014

European Union (Protection of Consumers in respect of Timeshare, Long-term Holiday Product, Resale and Exchange Contracts) (Amendment) Regulations 2014

European Union (Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2015, S.I. No. 343 of 2015

European Union (Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) (No. 2) Regulations

2015, S.I. No. 368 of 2015

European Union (Traded Companies — Corporate Governance Statements) Regulations 2015, S.I. No. 423 of 2015

European Union (Online Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2015, S.I. No. 500 of 2015

European Union (Online Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes) Regulations 2016, S.I. No. 32 of 2016

European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and Other Rights) (Amendment) Regulations 2016, S.I. No. 336 of 2016

Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 (Commencement) Order 2014, S.I. No. 366 of 2014

Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014 (Establishment Day) Order 2014, S.I. No. 367 of 2014

Consumer Protection Act 2007 (Grocery Goods Undertakings) Regulations 2016, S.I. No. 35 of 2016

Consumer Protection Act 2007 (Competition and Consumer Protection Commission) Levy Regulations 2016, S.I. No. 479 of