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Case Study: “Consumer Protection”


Under the UK law, customers have the same powers as in any other types of commerce. The government is also longing to change existing regulations to help to clear up any obscurity in present law to help trade and ultimately customer protection. These acts and rules are the next:

1) The Data protection act 1998;

2) The Customer protection act 1998;

3) British codes of advertising and sales promotion;

4) The Distance selling laws 2000;

5) The Unfair contract act 1977 and 1999 laws;

6) The Sales of goods act 1979;

7) The Customer credit act 1974;

8) The Commerce presentation act 1968.

So at the very beginning, a basic question in customer protection: who is the customer? The idea of the customer in legislation is of recent spring. The great part of law is still included in the Civil Code written in the late 19th century on the sample of the Code Napoleon. The Code still today gives the great part of the regulations governing agreements in general, the agreement of selling and the supply of services. It will hence come as no surprise that the concept of customer protection and the body of the customer had not yet been favourably identified or created at that point. The word “consumer” is noticeably missing from the Code which did not and still does not identify the notion of the customer as such. Much of the primary Code is still in its original form and some of its regulations do not depict the present, complex, active society of preset time, and sound ancient both in concept and in notion (Morris, 1980).

In the regulation of sale, to take simply one significant example, the Code admits the figures of the seller and the purchaser. With the exclusion of some old customary regulations safeguarding the position of under aged, women and weak-minded persons , all consumers are regarded and treated equally and similarly by the Civil Code. This guaranteed a minimum degree of protection in the kind of the Roman law-derived assurances in the regulations governing the agreement of sale. The first of these guarantees corresponds to peaceful ownership; this safeguards the accurate passage of possession rights and sequential enjoyment of the product being bought. Secondly, the guarantee against latent faults gives a consumer an alternative between two remedies when a product bought suffers from a significant damage which renders it fragmentary or total useless.

Customer means any natural individual who, in the contracts introduced in these laws, is acting for objectives which are outside his commerce, business or profession (Macleod, 2002);

Customer insurance denotes any undertaking to a customer by an individual acting in the course of his affair, given without additional charge, to compensate the cost paid or to replace, overhaul or handle consumer product in any way if they do not meet the requirements set out in the guarantee section or in the appropriate advertising (Yaqub, 1999);

The Seller denotes the person, corporation or firm on whom an order is set.

Products denote the items ordered under a request and 'delivery order' denotes any order, call off comment or other order made by or on behalf of the firm for delivery of all or portion of the products (Spilsbury, 1998).

Consumer regulation covers agreement, tort, customer credit, and consumer security. Each of these regions has seen great changes in the methods business is done, in general as a result of changing technology, allowing people to purchase goods and services in new methods, including with the help of the internet. That technology can, in itself, be the reason of difficulties, where it goes wrong, or where providers have inadequate methods to deal with buyer. Both providers and consumers need information on how to deal with the questions that arise.

Sale of products to a consumer

In Britain the sale of products is governed by the Sale of Products Act 1979 (as amended by the Sale and Supply of Products Act 1994 and the Sale of Products (Amend) Act 1995 ("SGA 1979").

Responsibilities of the parties

It is the responsibility of the salesman to deliver the products and of a consumer to obtain and pay for them in consequence with the conditions of the contract. Therefore the salesman must be ready and willing to give ownership of the products in exchange for the purchase cost and the consumer must be ready and willing to disburse for the products. These responsibilities are basic and failing by either side to perform them gives the innocent party to abolish the contract and bring for faults. The responsibilities of the sides are further determined by the conditions of the contract and conditions, which can be meant by law (Company Lawcards, 2002).

Contractual conditions

Express conditions, are oral or written conditions admitted between the parties. Often express conditions are a salesman’s norm terms and conditions, which are included into contracts for the sale of products. In buyer sales, should a firm wish to rest on their norm terms and conditions, they should provide that these are brought to the buyer's consideration, agreed (especially if they are onerous to the customer) and are adequate.

Implied conditions

Included into all agreements for the sale of products whether the standard purchases from a retailer by the customer or within business sales are the following conditions:

That the salesman has the right to sell the products and that they are free from encumbrances or fees and that the consumer will enjoy quiet ownership.

That the products will conform to their presentation.

That the products will be of acceptable quality.

That where the customer makes known the aim of the buying, that the products will be fit for that aim - or fit for the rational purpose.

That is where products are sold by pattern, they will conform to that pattern.

All the above are classified as terms and any violation of them, for instance, in the sale of faulty products, would amount to a basic violation of agreement and could entitle the buyer to refuse from the product and seek repayment of the purchase cost or claim defects.

Sellers responsibilities and customers Remedies

Seller’s responsibilities:

  1. Transfer ownership by conveyance goods in conformity with the terms of the agreement, for instance, on date and at the place agreed or if no deal, at the sellers place of trading and at an acceptable time.
  2. Sell acceptable quality products, which are fit for the objective that they were bought for.
  3. Sell products, which conform to their description or the pattern used.

Consumer’s remedies

Should the seller fail to conform to his responsibilities either those expressly stated or included by regulation, the consumer would have a right to resort. The remedies accessible and set out below are additionally to any remedies they may have been implied by a business guarantee or warranties:

  1. Refusal and termination of the agreement.
  2. Faults.
  3. Rejection to perform own liabilities.
  4. Particular performance of seller’s liabilities.

It should be mentioned that the responsibilities and remedies can contradict from case to case. The refusal from products and termination of the agreement, thereby entitling a compensation of the purchase cost paid is only acceptable in particular circumstances and can be lost due to an amount of intervening case. This would leave the consumer with only a remedy in faults.

Buyer’s protection

There is no particular structure of lawful regulations to cover you when you buy products. Legal regulations for the selling of products have yet to catch up with those for customary shopping.

Protection for buyers in the UK is likely to better over the following few years. Offers for a directive on trade covering all sides of selling services are presently under negotiation. A new UK directive was accomplished in March 2002 and betters protection of customer rights for faulty or deficient products. Though not all UK have fulfilled it yet.

Protection of customers in law

A range of UK regulations apply to the sale of products, nevertheless of whether that selling is accomplished privately, by delivery order, or via the internet. Most part of them are only appropriate to the UK.

A growing body of regulations created throughout UK directives now gives a structure for commerce widely the European economic region. These directives are introduced into UK supply regulation via the UK customer protection law as basic legislation. Part 11 of this law facilitates statement of secondary Regulations related to the security of a particular range of goods.

Selling of goods rights, damaged goods - main facts:

  1. Wherever products are bought they must "comply with contract". This implies they must be as described, fit for objective and of adequate quality (for instance, not inherently damaged at the date of sale).
  2. Products are of favourable quality if they reach the norm that a sane person would regard as adequate, taking into consideration the cost and any description.
  3. Elements of quality include fitness for objective, freedom from insignificant defects, appearance and finish, stability and security.
  4. It is the salesman, not the manufacturer, who is liable if products do not comply with contract.
  5. If products do not comply with contract at the date of sale, purchasers can demand their money back "within a favourable time". (This is not determined and will depend on conditions).
  6. For up to six years after buying (five years from finding in Scotland) purchasers can request defects (which a court would approximate to the price of a repair or replacement).
  7. A consumer who is a buyer, for instance is not purchasing in the course of a business, can demand an overhaul or replacement as an opportunity.
  8. If overhaul and replacement are not feasible or too expensive, then the buyer can seek a partial compensation, if they have had some profit from the product, or a full compensation if the damage has meant they have got no profit.
  9. Customary, the onus is on all consumers to prove the products did not comply with contract (for example was naturally faulty) and should have favourably lasted until this point in time (for instance, perishable products do not last for six years).
  10. If a buyer chooses to demand an overhaul or replacement, then for the first six months after buying it will be for the retailer to prove the products did comply with contract (for example, were not naturally faulty).
  11. Subsequent to six months and until the completion of the six years, it is for the buyer to prove the shortage of conformity.

Concerning the first point of the question according to which on 1st August 2004 Mary Fish went to Blackmans Ltd and bought 100 beaufort plain white china plates. Blackmans Ltd agreed to have the plate engraved with a fish, which Mary Fish has chosen to use as her monogram. The total cost of the plates was £1000.

Secondly, Mary Fish also bought 50 sets of Sharford cutlery. Blackmans Ltd had none in stock but agreed to order them from her. The cost was £500.

Thirdly, Blackmans Ltd had 200 Charleston crystal glasses in stock and Mary Fish bought 100 of them.

Mary Fish paid Blackmans Ltd for all the goods and agreed to collect the glasses when the plates and the cutlery were also ready for collections.

On August, 19, 2004 Mary phoned Blackmans Ltd to find out if the goods were ready for collection. She was informed that the company had been put into administrative receivership and that she would be receiving a letter from the receivers in due course.

What is Mary Fish’s legal position in relation to the ownership of the goods purchased by her from Blackmans Ltd?

According to the terms of the question Mary Fish has paid Blackmans Ltd for the goods (plain white china plates, sets of Sharford cutlery and Charleston crystal glasses) in full size and on the 1st August, 2004 she has become an owner of the indicated property.

The goods were kept in the storage of Blackmans Ltd. Blackmans Ltd had to engrave the plates with a fish as Mary Fish’s monograms.

Therefore, according to the section 35A of the Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994 where it is noted that “If the consumer has the right to refuse from the goods on the ground of a breach on the side of the vendor that influences some or all of them, but admits some of the products, including, where there are any products not influenced by the breach, all such products, he does not by admitting them lose his right to refuse from the rest”*, Mary Fish has the right to demand from the receivers of Blackmans Ltd the abolition of confiscation concerning her own property, namely:

  • 100 beaufort plain white china plates,
  • 100 Charleston crystal glasses, that Mary Fish had to collect.

In the ratio of 50 sets of Sharford cutlery that Mary Fish also had bought – she can either to refuse from these sets, having asserted a claim to the liquidation committee with the purpose of caused damage compensation, - or Mary Fish can refuse from the installment for the sets, having received beaufort plain white china plates and Charleston crystal glasses only.

Concerning the second point of the question according to which on 5th August, 2004 Mary Fish went to Cheesemans Ltd, another trade supplier and bought a new freezer for £1200. It was delivered to her house on 14th August, 2004.

Mary Fish received a letter on 16th August, 2004 regarding the freezer, in which she was informed by Cheesemans Ltd that a discontinued model of the freezer was sold to her in error as it had already been bought by another purchaser and they could not therefore order another. Therefore, Cheesemans Ltd wanted to come for collecting it and supply her with another model for the equivalent value. They would also pay her £100 as compensation for the inconvenience caused to her.

What is Mary Fish’s legal position in relation to the ownership of the freezer purchased by her from Cheesemans Ltd?

Mary Fish, according to the Part 5A of the Sale of Goods Act 1979, “Additional rights of buyer in consumer cases” in Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 3045 that “the consumer has the right under and in conformity with section 48B, to demand from the

* Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994, section 35A.

salesman to repair or replace the products, or under and in conformity with section 48C to demand from the seller to bring down the purchase price of the products to the consumer by an appropriate amount, or to cancel the contract with regard to the products in question. For the aims of subsection above products which do not comply with the contract of sale at any time in the course of six months starting with the time on which the products were delivered to the consumer must be taken not to have so complied at that time”*, has the right to demand from Cheesemans Ltd to replace the freezer of appropriate quality and to demand a compensation for the inconvenience caused to her.

Cheesemans Ltd in the letter on 16th August, 2004, has guaranteed to fulfill the terms, namely:

- Cheesemans Ltd has guaranteed to replace the freezer and to supply her with another model for the equivalent value;

- To cover all the replacement and delivery expenses of a new freezer;

- To pay Mary Fish the compensation for the inconvenience caused to her amounting to £100.

Thus, according to the terms of the question Mary Fish’s rights are not broken.

In the third point of the question on 7th August, 2004, Mary Fish went to Dodge Cars Ltd and bought a second hand Fonda estate car for £8000.

Mary received a letter on 18th August, 2004 regarding the car, in which she was informed by Greedy finance plc. that Dodge Cars Ltd had bought it from James Kent, who was the hirer under a hire purchase agreement with Greedy finance plc. Mr. Kent had defaulted in his payments to them and they wished to repossess the car.

* The Sale of Goods Act 1979, “Additional rights of buyer in consumer cases” in Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 3045, Part 5A, section 48B and 48C.

What is Mary Fish’s legal position in relation to the ownership of the car purchased by her from Dodge Cars Ltd?

The Invalid Terms in Buyer Contracts Regulations 1999 (SI 1999 No 2083) ensure that a term which has not been individually settled in a buyer contract is invalid (and therefore non-binding on the buyer) if, in spite of the requirement of good faith, it arouses a significant unbalance in the rights and obligations of the sides in prejudice of the buyer.

Under the Regulations, the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has a pledge to study any complaint made to it about the justice of any contract term considered for general use. OFT may searches for assurances and, if obligatory, injunctions against those using conditions which it considers being invalid. Certain other groups are also empowered to search for injunctions against invalid conditions.

Home authority commerce standards officers also look for compliance of relevant criminal legislation such as the Commerce Descriptions Act 1968, which relates amongst other things to clocking, and transport safety legislation.

According to the terms of the given question James Kent is not the owner of the second hand Fonda estate car, and it means that he has sold it to Mary Fish illegally. The property right for the car has not passed to Mary Fish, therefore she must return second hand Fonda estate car to its owner - Greedy finance plc. In this case Mary Fish has to recover damage amounting to £8000 from the seller - Mr. Kent, having filled the claim to a court.

Similar cases:

State customer protection statutes are determined to defend buyers from unfair or ambiguous practices and often go over the ordinary legal remedies acceptable for breach of guarantee. Laws like these are on the books in nearly every country, though the details differ.

The first case:

In Wales, a Chevrolet trader promised a "free five-day, four-night vacation to a fashionable health resort in Brighton" to anyone who purchased a car or van. Relying on this particular advertisement, Peter purchased a van from the trader. When the vacation voucher came, Peter discovered that the so-called free vacation was surely a time-share sales advertisement. The vacation trip was loaded down with terms, restrictions and duties. Thinking he would been deceived, Peter sued the trader. The jurymen awarded Peter a sum of money in reimbursement defects - the cost of the trip - plus in punitive defects.

The second case:

In Derby, Kenneth ordered some equipment from a store. When it arrived, Kenneth remarks numerous damages. He refused from the order and requested a return of his deposit. The equipment store rejected, and Kenneth sued. The jurymen awarded him several times the sum of his deposit and ordered the equipment store to pay his attorney compensations.

Both situations were brought under state customer protection statutes. Customer protection regulations place a possible weapon in the hands of consumers. In a customary suit, a suer can regain only his or her present losses. For instance, without the profit of a customer protection regulation, the man who sued to return his equipment deposit would be powered to no more than his deposit amount. But under the statute in the country, he obtained three-way defects plus attorney compensations. Likewise, the person who sued the car trader about the free holiday won punitive defects amounting to many times the cost of his trip. The possibility for large verdicts gives consumers and their lawyers a reason to claim if it seems that a law has been broken.


  1. Company Lawcards, 2002, Cavendish Publishing, 176 pp.
  2. Macleod, J 2002, Consumer Sales Law, Cavendish Publishing, 1100 pp.
  3. Morris, D, 1980, Economics of consumer protection, London, Heinemann Educational, 256 pp.
  4. Spilsbury, S 1998, Guide To Advertising And Sales Promotion Law, Cavendish Publishing, 272 pp.
  5. The Sale and Supply of Goods Act 1994, section 35A.
  6. The Sale of Goods Act 1979, Additional rights of buyer in consumer casesin Statutory Instrument 2002 No. 3045, Part 5A, section 48B and 48C.
  7. Yaqub, Z 1999, European Handbook On Advertising Law, Cavendish Publishing, 986 pp.


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