Citizens Advice Bureau

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LOCAL INFORMATION

13.1.0.L1
Statutory Consumer Rights

Extent: Jersey
Updated 25 November 2013
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Consumer protection in Jersey

1 The Supply of Goods and Services (Jersey) Law 2009 came into force on 1st September 2009.

The Law introduces statutory rights for consumers similar to those found in the UK Sales of Goods Act. The main effect of the Law is to clarify buyers' rights and sellers' responsibilities in the event of any disputes.

2 The Law provides that, in every transaction for the sale and supply of goods, including hire-purchase, the seller automatically warrants certain basic things as far as the item sold is concerned. The equivalent of such automatic warranties in English law, are known as “implied terms”.

The person transferring or selling the goods must have the right to do so and the goods must –

Correspond with the description. When goods are supplied and the buyer relies on such a description, the goods must be ‘as described’.

Be of satisfactory quality – if the goods are sold in the course of a business. Goods must be of a standard that a reasonable person would regard as satisfactory, having regard to any description applied to them, the price and all other relevant circumstances. Quality is a general term which covers a number of matters including –

appearance and finish

freedom from minor defects

safety

durability

In assessing quality, all relevant circumstances must be considered, including, price and description. The manufacturer’s claims for the product can also be taken into account. Note. The implied term of satisfactory quality does not apply to contracts between persons acting as private individuals.

Be fit for their intended purpose – if the goods are sold in the course of a business. When a buyer indicates that goods are required for a particular purpose or where it is obvious that goods are intended for a particular purpose, and a business seller supplies them to meet that requirement, the goods should be fit for that specified purpose. Note. This does not apply to contracts between private individuals.

3 Buyer’s remedy for breach

A buyer can reject the goods provided that he/she is not deemed to have accepted them, which will depend on individual circumstances. When a buyer rejects goods he/she can claim compensation for losses. In most circumstances, this will amount to a full refund by the seller unless the buyer has already had substantial use from the goods.

4 What is acceptance?

When acceptance takes place, the buyer loses the right to reject the goods, although he/she may still retain a right to compensation or some other remedy.

Acceptance applies only in contracts for the sale of goods and examples of acceptance are as follows –

The buyer telling the seller that he/she has accepted the goods. (This does not include merely signing a delivery note.)

Altering the goods in some way.

Keeping the goods for more than a reasonable time without notifying the seller of faults or defects (this time period will vary depending on the nature of the goods).

Using the goods after notification of defects.

A buyer is not considered to have accepted the goods just because he/she has let the seller attempt a repair. Also, a buyer must have a reasonable opportunity to examine the goods to check that they conform with the contract, before he/she is deemed to have accepted the goods.

5 Remedies where the buyer cannot reject the goods

When there is a breach of contract, but the buyer has lost his/her right to reject the goods, he/she will be entitled to claim compensation from the seller. The amount of compensation will be the sum required to put right the breach. Usually, this will be the cost of repair or replacement, or a part refund, and perhaps compensation for any other losses suffered. If a repair or replacement would put the breach right, and the seller offers this to the buyer, he/she would normally be expected to accept it.

6 Additional remedies for consumer buyers

There are additional remedies in the Law where the buyer is clearly acting as a consumer in contracts for the sale or supply of goods. In these circumstances, the consumer may be able to demand any of the following –

A repair or replacement

A price reduction to an appropriate amount taking the defect into account

Rescission of the contract (i.e. the return of the goods, part or full refund, and compensation, if appropriate).

If the consumer chooses one of these remedies, and if the defect is discovered within 6 months of delivery, it is automatically assumed that the fault was there at the time of delivery, unless the trader can prove otherwise. If more than 6 months have passed, the consumer has to prove that the defect was there at the time of delivery, even if it was not apparent at the time.

If the consumer chooses the option of a repair or replacement, the trader must do this within a reasonable time and also pay all the relevant costs, for example labour, postage, etc.

Where a consumer demands a repair but that remedy would be disproportionate, then the trader would be entitled to offer one of the other remedies. For example, if a consumer demands a repair, but it would be cheaper to replace the item than repair it, then it would be reasonable for a trader to offer only a replacement. The consumer can only require a price reduction or rescission where the cost of repair or replacement is disproportionate.

7 Exceptions – When the buyer cannot claim

A buyer has no rights in respect of defects that are brought to his/her attention before a sale or if he/she examines the goods before purchase and any defects could easily have been identified. Also, a buyer cannot claim for damage he/she causes to the goods or if he/she simply has a change of mind about wanting the goods. A buyer cannot claim if he/she chooses the product for a purpose which is neither obvious nor made known to the seller, and then finds that the item is simply unsuitable for that purpose.

8 Supply of Services: automatic guarantees

The Law clarifies what a consumer can expect when he/she enters into a contract with a supplier to provide a service. The basic protection provided is that, if the supplier is acting in the course of a business, the service must be carried out with reasonable care and skill. In most instances, the timescale for that service will be agreed between the consumer and supplier but, where the time for the service to be carried out is not –

fixed by the contract,

left to be fixed by agreement, or

determined in the course of dealing between the parties,

the service must be carried out within a reasonable time. Similarly, the price to be paid for a service is usually agreed before it is carried out. However, where the price is not –

determined by the contract,

left to be determined in a manner agreed by the parties, or

determined by the course of dealing between the parties,

the service must be carried out for a reasonable charge.

9 Protection for innocent buyer of a motor vehicle still on finance

The Law gives protection to consumers who, without knowledge, buy vehicles that are subject to a hire purchase or conditional sale agreement. If the debt has not been fully discharged, the title of the goods, namely ownership of the vehicle will still pass to the unsuspecting buyer. However it is open to the former owner to take action against the unauthorised seller to recover a debt or to seek compensation.

10 The law deals only with civil contractual rights and remedies. It does not create any criminal offences and there are no enforcement powers or duties to be undertaken by any particular body in the event of contractual disputes which are unable to be resolved through negotiations. Redress will have to be sought through an action in the courts.

11 For more information on your rights under the Suppy of Goods and Services Law see the following guide for consumers produced by the Trading Standards Service. Shoppers Guide

Some Problem Sectors

12 Private Sales

If you buy goods privately - perhaps through an advertisement in the local paper - you have fewer rights than when you buy from a trader. The only rules are that the seller must have title to the goods and that they must be as described.

If the seller says anything misleading about the condition of the goods, and you buy on the basis of what is said, then you may be able to seek a legal remedy if the goods turn our differently. However in practice this could be difficult to enforce and expensive if you need to get legal representation.

13 Buying A Used Car From A Dealer

Under the Road Traffic (Jersey) Law, 1956 it is an offence to sell an unroadworthy vehicle. The condition of five areas of the vehicle constitutes its roadworthiness: tyres; brakes; steering; lights and bodywork/ exhaust. A defect in any of these areas could result in an offence.

When you go to a garage, take a friend for a second opinion, preferably one who knows about cars. Ask the dealer about the history of the car. A good garage will check that its cars are not stolen property, insurance company write-offs that have been repaired, or subject to outstanding hire purchase agreements.

Inspect the car thoroughly. Have the car tested by your local garage before you buy. Most local garages are members of the Jersey Motor Trades Federation who can mediate in the event of a dispute between a member and a consumer.

If the car is still under an extended warranty from the manufacturer check that the previous owner has had the car regularly serviced according to the warranty conditions and that the warranty can be re-assigned to you.

If you are offered a new warranty check what it includes (and excludes) and how much extra you will have to pay for it.

14 Home Maintenance and Improvements

Choose a reliable contractor, preferably one who is a member of a trade association which offers conciliation or arbitration services.

Get quotations (not estimates) from at least three contractors. Don't assume that all trades provide free quotations so find out first.

Having chosen your contractor ask for a written agreement covering all the important points: the work to be done; the price; how long will it take; the names of any sub-contractors who will be used on the job.

For larger jobs it would be better to use a standard building industry contract. Do not make the final payment for work until it has been completed to your satisfaction. It is usually a good idea to retain a sum of between 10% and 20% of the contract price for an agreed period after the job has been completed to ensure that the contractor will put right any faults that may emerge.

15 Internet Shopping

See 13.2.41

16 Credit Notes

Credit notes can only be exchanged for full price goods. When accepting a credit note from a shop be sure to check if there is a time limit for when the credit is available.

17 Useful Organisations

Jersey Chamber of Commerce
25 Pier Road
St Helier
JE1 4HF

Telephone 724536
Website : www.jerseychamber.com/home

Jersey Consumer Council
Liberation Place
St Helier
JE1 1BB

Telephone: 611161
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Website:www.jerseyconsumercouncil.org.je

Financial Services Commission
P.O. Box 267,
14-18 Castle Street,
St Helier
JE4 8TP

Telephone 822000
Fax 822001
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Trading Standards Service
9 - 13 Central Market
St Helier
JE2 4WL

Telephone 448160
Fax 448175
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Jersey Competition & Regulatory Authority
2nd Floor
Salisbury House
1-9 Union Street
St Helier
JE2 3RF

Telephone 514990
Fax 514991
email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.