Consumer law on delivery of goods
Consumer law on delivery of goods
If you are a trader selling goods in the course of a business to a consumer i.e. an individual not buying those goods wholly or substantially for the purpose of the consumer’s business, then certain obligations are imposed for delivery times under the Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 that came into force on 13 June 2013.
This Briefing Note only relates to the sale and purchase of goods between trader and consumer as defined by the Regulations, whether the contract for sale is made on-line or not on-line (i.e. at the traders premises)
What are the obligations?
The obligations apply to all goods, even to goods excluded from other provisions of the Regulations (e.g. supply of a medicinal products under prescription or healthcare product supplied by a healthcare professional, an off premises contract where the payment is £42 or less).
What is the date for Delivery?
The Regulations state that delivery must be made without undue delay and in any event within 30 calendar days of the day the contract is entered into UNLESS:
- A shorter or longer period has been agreed, or
- The obligation to deliver arises at the time it the contract was entered into, for example by reference to information given to the consumer about delivery time (whether longer or shorter than 30 calendar days) before entering into the contract or otherwise having regard to the nature of the goods (e.g. postal supply of frozen products would have to be delivered in good condition and still frozen on arrival)
Failure to deliver in the time determined (as mentioned above)
If failure to deliver is due to the Trader refusing to deliver, or failed to meet a specific delivery time made known to the Trader as being essential to the consumer (e.g. wedding dress must no later than the day before the wedding) , then the consumer may:
- treat the contract as terminated and notify the Trader (even over the phone) to that effect; or
- specify a new period (appropriate to the circumstances) for delivery and if the Trader fails to deliver, then the consumer may treat the contract at an end on expiry of the new period.
Note however, that the consumer can in the alternative elect to:
- cancel the order for purchase; or
- reject the good that have been delivered. This would enable a consumer to keep the contract alive where, for example, there are other goods that the consumer as yet to receive under the same order, but on a different delivery date.
What if late delivery is due to the carrier?
If the Trader has taken responsibility for the carriage of goods, then irrespective that the carrier’s default in delivering the goods on time is wholly beyond the Trader’s control, the Trader will be in default to the consumer.
If the consumer has commissioned a carrier to which the goods are to be sent or delivered by the Trader, then the Trader’s obligation is fulfilled on such delivery to the nominated carrier.
Obligation to Reimburse
If the contract is treated at an end, or an order is cancelled, or goods delivered are rejected, then in any of these cases the Trader has to reimburse the consumer with all payments made (including delivery charges) without undue delay (usually within a few days).
This might not be the end of the issue, because the consumer would still be free to seek his ordinary legal remedies, including damages or specific performance.
Who carries the Risk during delivery?
The risk in the goods (i.e. liability for loss or damage) will pass to the consumer on actual physical delivery to the consumer or a person nominated by the consumer to take such physical possession.
As mentioned earlier. if the consumer has commissioned a carrier to which the goods are to be sent or delivered by the Trader, then the Trader’s obligation is fulfilled on such delivery to the nominated carrier.
The clear message is: review your terms and condition of trade as well as sales literature and pre-contract information given to consumers.
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