It is of crucial importance that the law in this area is simple, straightforward and easy to use, provided that problems with faulty goods happen regularly in everyday life. The Law Commission has asserted that their upmost intention behind this Act is to “simplify the remedies available to consumers, bring the law into one line with accepted good practice, and provide appropriate remedies which allow consumers to participate with confidence in the market place.”
The domestic law has been the target of criticism over the years for its uncertainty, especially for its conflicting case law over what constitutes “a reasonable time” to reject goods. Furthermore, the EU remedies have their own lacunas, for example, over what amounts to “significant inconvenience”. These difficulties are intensified by the fact that the two separate regimes co-exist, utilising distinct language and concepts and impose different burdens of proof. As a consequence, the SoGA has been reported as “a disjointed, often incoherent, amalgam.”
In outlining the economic rationale for the Bill, the Government stated that it should make markets “work effectively and drive economic growth”. According to the Government, the reform of consumer law would bring “quantifiable net benefits of £4 billion to the UK economy over 10 years”. Additionally, a range of economic benefits that have not yet been quantified would surface. With UK consumers spending “an estimated £90 billion at month”, consumers and businesses still found it hard and burdensome to comprehend their legal rights and obligations, as reported by the previous Coalition Government. Accordingly, this undermined competitiveness and growth in the economy as a whole. The assertion that new transparent rights embodied in a single Act would assist customers to make better, reasoned choices and decisions when they buy and save them time and money appears legitimate. Moreover, this rationale is greatly supported by the Consumer Affairs Minister Jo Swinson, who said that: “For too long consumers and businesses have struggled to understand the complicated rules that apply when buying goods and services. That is why the Consumer Rights Act is so important in setting out clear and updated consumer rights for goods, services and, for the first time, digital content. Well-informed, confident consumers are vital for driving continued growth and building a stronger economy.”
The Government felt the “need to increase consumer confidence in…markets as a response to the economic downturn”, along with the necessity to implement wider EU reform proposals (such as the EU Consumer Rights Directive). This resulted in an extensive consultation on a Consumer Law Reform Programme, acknowledging as a matter of policy certain ‘core consumer rights’, and an introduction of a combination of reform measures which ended up in the implementation of the CRA 2015. The publication of a benchmarking study by the University of East Anglia in 2008 and various reports and recommendations by the Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission were all included involved in the consultation process.