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Irish Government Announces Major Overhaul of Consumer Law

30 Jan 2012

The Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton TD, has announced a major overhaul of Irish consumer law.  The announcement follows the publication of the report of the Sales Law Review Group which makes recommendations of reform of the law in this area.  The report recommends the enactment of a new Consumer Contract Rights Act which would incorporate the main statutory provisions applicable to consumer contracts, including the provisions of the new Consumer Rights Directive which has recently been adopted by the European Council.  New laws in the area are expected to include:

  • a ban on excessive payment fees (i.e. payment fees greater than the cost of processing the payment);
  • a ban on pre-ticked boxes on websites - additional charges will only be permitted with express consent;
  • curbs on small print, possibly by requiring minimum font sizes and mandatory font colours;
  • a right for consumers to reject faulty goods within 30 days;
  • a rules that goods must be of satisfactory quality (rather than the current standard of "merchantable quality");
  • significant pro-consumer improvements in laws relating to services, including strengthened guarantees as to the quality of services provided; and an increased withdrawal period of 14 days (rather than the current standard of 7 days applicable to internet purchases by consumers.

The Minister's intention is to enact changes by statutory instrument where possible over the course of 2012 as well as, at the same time, preparing a comprehensive Consumer Rights Act.

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