In our May update on the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (CRA), we reported the Government’s announcement that maritime, air and rail services will not be exempt from the CRA scope. Instead, the implementation date has been delayed until 1 October 2016.
At the time of that update, we were still awaiting publication of the Government’s response to the consultation that influenced their decision. This has now been published and the decision not to exempt transport services has been qualified.
The relevant CRA Sections
The implementation delay in respect of the transport sector relates only to sections 57(3) and 57(4)(a) of the CRA.
Section 57(3) restricts traders who supply consumer services from limiting their liability to less than the price paid for such services, if they are in breach of relevant statutory obligations. Those obligations include providing services within a reasonable time, at a reasonable price and with reasonable care and skill.
Section 57(4)(a) deals more generally with constraints on the ability of service providers to restrict consumer remedies.
Purpose of the Government’s consultation
The consultation focussed on a number of points and concerns, summarised below. Responses were received from a variety of transport industry and consumer bodies.
If sections 57(3) and 57(4)(a) CRA are applied to the transport sector:
If the CRA sections are not applied to the transport sector:
The Consultation outcome:
In reaching its decision, the Government considered that consumer interests are best served if transport sectors are not exempted from the CRA provisions. The financial and logistical risks posited by the transport industry bodies were considered to be outweighed by the potential benefits to consumers.
In particular, the Government stressed that, provided transport operators perform their services with reasonable care and skill, there is no reason why they should incur any additional costs under the CRA regime.
As such, the CRA will apply to the aviation and maritime sectors from 1 October 2016.
Implementation delay for rail transport operators:
For the rail industry, the Government considers that an additional 12 month exemption period for Section 57(3) CRA is necessary for some (but not all) rail operators:
EU licenced rail operators are those operating mainland services in the UK pursuant to an EU Rail Licence. This includes London Overground rail services.
All businesses providing consumer-facing services should now be aware of the enhanced rights afforded under CRA, albeit some transport sectors have had a period of grace before being bound by those rights.
With implementation deadlines now determined, the transport industry and service providers individually should be actively addressing the requirements under CRA.
Businesses should be checking their terms and conditions and, in particular, the compensation mechanisms where services are delayed or cancelled and, in the case of air travel, if boarding is denied or a passenger is downgraded.
Compensation schemes may still be applied. However, they will need to comply with the CRA where such compensation is being paid as a result of a breach of a consumer’s statutory rights.
Of particular relevance are the following requirements:
Any breach of the CRA may entitle a consumer to pursue the operator through the courts to enforce their rights.
Please click here for a link to the full Response to Consultation.