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Consumer agency wants to make contracts fairer

Have you a contract that automatically renews or has unequal obligations? Then you should read this.

Image: Contract via Shutterstock

THE NATIONAL CONSUMER Agency (NCA) has published guidelines for businesses to help them comply with the legislation on unfair terms in consumer contracts.

The guidelines will assist in explaining what an unfair term is and how a business can ensure that their standard form consumer contracts terms are fair.

These terms include:

  • Terms, which provide for an automatic renewal of a contract without the consumer’s agreement
  • Terms which impose unequal obligations, i.e. the consumer is bound to perform the contract but not the seller/supplier
  • Unfair cancellation clauses
  • Terms which act to impose disproportionate penalties on the consumer
  • “Hidden” terms, i.e. terms not brought to the consumer’s attention
  • Terms excluding or restricting the liability of the supplier for death or personal injury

According to the legislation, a term is unfair if it gives the trader an unfair advantage over the consumer, or takes away the consumer’s legal rights.

Karen O’Leary, Chief Executive of the National Consumer Agency said the guidelines would help businesses

“Standard form consumer contracts are a feature of the modern market place and are common across a range of areas such as utilities, travel and leisure.

“All businesses using standard form contracts with consumers, should review the guidelines carefully to ensure their contracts don’t contain any terms which could be considered unfair.”

The NCA has previously taken action against firms in the waste sector in relation to contract terms, which it considered unfair..

Read: Enforcement action taken against Christmas Direct over delivery delays

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