What remedies are available to buyers in a contract for the sale of goods?

What are ‘remedies’?

A remedy for breach of contract is a way of putting right something that has gone wrong in the performance of that contract which has caused loss or damage to one of the parties.

A consumer who enters into a contract for the sale of goods of services can claim remedies if the other party to the contract (ie. the seller) fails to fulfil its part of the contract. In the event of such a breach, a business is liable to the consumer for appropriate remedies. This could be, for instance, compensation or termination the contract.

What constitutes a breach of contract?

A seller’s duty under a contract for the sale of goods or services includes to deliver the goods in accordance with the terms of the contract. They must also be fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality. Examples of breaches include:

  • the provision of faulty goods;
  • a restaurant meal of poor quality;
  • the dangerous installation of services;
  • failure to deliver goods on time;
  • the goods do not comply with the terms of the contract.

The law provides a range of remedies to consumers in these situations.

Which law applies?

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 came into force in 2015 and provides a wider range of remedies for consumers than ever before. In the case of goods that are supplied in breach of contract, a consumer has:

  • An early right to reject the goods within 30 days and to obtain a full refund. It is for the business to collect the goods at its own cost – the consumer does not have to pay to return the goods;
  • The right to one repair or replacement within 30 days, at cost to the business (including postage, labour and materials, unless this is disproportionate to the cost of other remedies available);
  • Thereafter, the right to a price reduction or the right to reject and receive a refund outside the 30 days (with a deduction for any use by the consumer) if no acceptable (or possible) repair or replacement takes place within 30 days.

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