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Enforcing Your Civil and Consumer Rights

By: Garry Crystal - Updated: 26 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Consumer Civil Rights Legal Compensation

When it comes to enforcing your civil and consumer rights there are some consumer protection issues to consider. Whenever a consumer purchases goods or services they do have certain civil rights that are enforceable by law.

Consumer Rights

All consumers have certain civil rights when it comes to purchasing goods and services. Consumer rights usually come under the remit of the law covered in acts such as the Sale of Goods Act 1979 and also the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. There are a number of other acts that protect the rights of consumers such as the Consumer Protection Act 1987. All of these acts give the consumer a degree of protection whenever they purchase goods and services from a trader.

Enforcing your Consumer Rights

Regardless of the goods and services purchased there should always be some level of protection available to the consumer. Purchases can range from simply buying groceries in a local store to purchasing a home, buying a car, employing tradesmen or using a service such as telephone rental. The consumer will have rights and as such these rights can be enforced should any problems occur with the goods or the purchased services. There are a great many places where advice can be found regarding enforcing consumer rights but in the end it will be up to the consumer to initially challenge traders.

The Civil Courts

The first steps towards enforcing consumer rights will be to challenge the trader. If the consumer does not obtain any satisfaction then the next step could be court action. However, taking a case to the civil courts will cost time and money and should only be used as a last resort. Most cases will be allocated to the small claims division in a country court. Disgruntled consumers will need to work out exactly what they are going to claim for. This could be the outright cost of the purchase but may also be compensation due to losses that occurred to the consumer due to breach of contract.

Types of Compensation

There are a number of different types of claims and compensation available that will be dependant on the purchase. For example, a claim for the purchase of a holiday package that ended disastrously due to the holiday company’s errors could include expenses that the customer had to spend during the holiday. This case could also include compensation for the inconvenience and distress that occurred during the holiday. However, claims should be kept to a minimum and not padded for extra compensation.

The County Court

Consumer cases will normally be heard in the county court in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; in Scotland it will be the sheriff court. The small claims process will be used if the financial amount is £5,000 or less. By using the small claims process the time spent in the court should be reduced, which will also mean less cost to the consumer. If the case is for a higher amount or is a more detailed case then it may be heard in the High Court.

Financial Aid

If action is to be taken through the courts then a solicitor will usually be required and this will involve solicitor’s fees. Unfortunately there is no type of financial aid available when it comes to consumer cases. Many people are under the understanding that they will be entitled to legal aid if they cannot afford to pay for solicitors but this is not the case with consumer cases. A solicitor may under some circumstances be prepared to arrange a conditional fee agreement, which means, “no win, no fee”. This type of fee should be discussed with the solicitor at the initial meeting.

Although consumers are protected and can take traders to court this process should only be used after much consideration. There may be heavy expenses to the consumer before the case actually arrives in court. It should also be remembered that the expenses may outweigh the actual award or compensation. Consumers should always try to come to some form of arrangement with the trader before resorting to the legal process.

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Dear Madam, Sir, My wife travelled with my 3-month old daughter with Emirates, from London to Harare. On their way back, the flight meant to leave Harare to Dubai, then London, stopped in Lusaka (Zambia). There, my wife had an allergic reaction, called a cabin member who called her manager. In the meantime, My wife found a little bed bug in her t-shirt and understand that the allergic reaction was due to this bed bug. She took the bed bug to the cabin crew who immediately advised the airport team members who urgently came into the plane and ask my wife and my baby to leave the plane. She told them that she was fine, they insisted that she had to leave the flight, a doctor proposed to check her, they refused. They just wanted her to get out. She refused, claiming her rights, they violently took the baby from her hands and humiliated her and took her out of the plane. She filmed most of the scenes. In the middle of Zambia, around 11 pm, no familly around, heavy rains, she had to go to the hospital to get a certificate that would allow her to be able to travel again. Finally she got the certificate, which shows that this was just a little bite by a bed bug, nothing to worry about, yet Emirates escalated the issue quite for nothing. She had to find a hotel around 2.00 am in country where she doesn't know anybody, carrying a 3-old baby. This is untolerable. We want to sue Emirates and hope you will be able to help us. Kind regards, Alioune
Alioune - 26-Jan-17 @ 12:50 PM
Maruci - Your Question:
I bought a second hand car from a trader less the 3 months ago; When driving the car home I realized there was a problem with the clutch. I contacted the warranty company offered by the trader and I was advised to take to a vat garage to get it fixed;The garage opened the engine and diagnosed that both clutch and flywhell needed to be replaced but when claimed from the warranty company my claim was refused saying it was wear and tear. I contacted the trader who made a phone call to the warranty group and convinced them to pay part of the bill. I paid £992 for the repair and was only reimbursed £500 by the warranty company who said was only paying it as a gesture of good will due to good relationship with the trader. I have been trying to claim the £492 from the trader but he refused to pay. I believe the trader must reimburse me as he sold me a car with problems. Would it be worthy taking him to court?

Our Response:
As it's now 3 months ago and you have already agreed on payment and partial repair, you should seek legal advice on this.
CivilRightsMovement - 22-Nov-16 @ 12:48 PM
I bought a second hand car from a trader less the 3 months ago; When driving the car home I realized there was a problem with the clutch. I contacted the warranty company offered by the trader and I was advised to take to a vat garage to get it fixed;The garage opened the engine and diagnosed that both clutch and flywhell needed to be replaced but when claimed from the warranty company my claim was refused saying it was wear and tear. I contacted the trader who made a phone call to the warranty group and convinced them to pay part of the bill. I paid £992 for the repair and was only reimbursed £500 by the warranty company who said was only paying it as a gesture of good will due to good relationship with the trader. I have been trying to claim the £492 from the trader but he refused to pay. I believe the trader must reimburse me as he sold me a car with problems. Would it be worthy taking him to court?
Maruci - 21-Nov-16 @ 7:55 PM
Confusedman - Your Question:
Hi, some advice needed, recently purchased a motorhome on finance (£40000) 20 days after purchase returned to dealer with water leak from roof, informed dealer and finance company that wouldn't accept a repair, under consumer rights act 2016,as returned within 30 days rejected vehicle, vehicle then repaired anyway, now being told by finance company that as a repair has been done, even though I said I wouldn't accept a repair am being told I must accept vehicle back, still paying finance as I don't want to be in breach of contract, but won't accept vehicle back, where next?

Our Response:
We think you can insist on rejecting it, but because the finance company is technically the owner until you've paid for it all, we're not 100% sure what the situation is if the finance company is willing to accept a repair. You might have to seek advice from a solicitor specialising in consumer law.
CivilRightsMovement - 9-Nov-16 @ 12:41 PM
Hi, some advice needed, recently purchased a motorhome on finance (£40000) 20 days after purchase returned to dealer with water leak from roof, informed dealer and finance company that wouldn't accept a repair, under consumer rights act 2016,as returned within 30 days rejected vehicle, vehicle then repaired anyway, now being told by finance company that as a repair has been done, even though I said I wouldn't accept a repair am being told I must accept vehicle back, still paying finance as I don't want to be in breach of contract, but won't accept vehicle back, where next?
Confusedman - 8-Nov-16 @ 4:49 PM
Recently purchased a vehicle which within 3 days has proved unsatisfactory. The dealer is stalling on agreeing to repair to to the cost of the part.
linners - 7-Nov-16 @ 5:05 PM
hides - Your Question:
I put down a £8,000 deposit on a Nissan on a 3 year lease deal in March 2016. The car needed oil after 3 months. They stated it was normal for new engines which is so untrue- they knew it too. They topped it up, didn't investigate and sent me on my way. Two months later the same again and they just topped it up and were happy not to investigate - I was not happy as I have money invested in this car. Eventually they agreed to take a proper look and have stated that 'I have filled the car with inferior diesel and washed the bores'. They have cleaned the valves and just want to give me the car back without a corrective action being taken. I have never used sub standard fuel and it really doesn't make sense as the trouble started in June, this is September and they stated that the fuel in the tank smelt funny!! I know if I take the car back that the same issue will occur, it is a fundamental flaw with their engine that occurred in the first 3 months and they have failed to fix it. I am so frustrated as there is no way I will make a final payment at the end of the 3 year lease and keep a car that is a lemon! What can I do? They just ignore me and I'm not convinced that the finance company will help as it's Nissan too! Please help!!

Our Response:
Get an independent report from a mechanic/expert to establish whether there is something genuinely wrong with the car or whether it's actually now fixed. This will help you to go back to the retailer while you're still within the 6 month period in which to get a further repair or a vehicle replacement.
CivilRightsMovement - 26-Oct-16 @ 2:27 PM
I put down a £8,000 deposit on a Nissan on a 3 year lease deal in March 2016. The car needed oil after 3 months. They stated it was normal for new engines which is so untrue- they knew it too.They topped it up, didn't investigate and sent me on my way. Two months later the same again and they just topped it up and were happy not to investigate - I was not happy as I have money invested in this car. Eventually they agreed to take a proper look and have stated that 'I have filled the car with inferior diesel and washed the bores'. They have cleaned the valves and just want to give me the car back without a corrective action being taken. I have never used sub standard fuel and it really doesn't make sense as the trouble started in June, this is September and they stated that the fuel in the tank smelt funny!! I know if I take the car back that the same issue will occur, it is a fundamental flaw with their engine that occurred in the first 3 months and they have failed to fix it. I am so frustrated as there is no way I will make a final payment at the end of the 3 year lease and keep a car that is a lemon! What can I do? They just ignore me and I'm not convinced that the finance company will help as it's Nissan too! Please help!!
hides - 25-Oct-16 @ 11:25 AM
SJ - Your Question:
Recently purchase two sofa's that were riddled with fleas. The charity where these were purchased informed me after the purchase that 'this happened quite frequently and we should've informed you that there might be bug problems'. The charity have agreed to pay for our property to be fumigated and have refunded the sale cost of the infested sofa's to which they collected and took to the local tip to be destroyed. Due to the delicate fabrics of some of our bedding, mattress, pillows and footwear the fumigators wasn't able to spray the poison on them which has left us out of pocket. In addition I have awful flea bites and have sent this evidence to the charity. Am I entitled to compensation including the distress caused by the fleas? Am happy to take the charity through the civil court although liability was admitted twice in person witnessed by myself and partner.

Our Response:
The courts may consider that the charity has already acted reasonably in removing the offending items and paying for the fumigation but if you want to apply then you can let the courts decide.
CivilRightsMovement - 5-Aug-16 @ 12:18 PM
Recently purchase two sofa's that were riddled with fleas. The charity where these were purchased informed me after the purchase that 'this happened quite frequently and we should've informed you that there might be bug problems'. The charity have agreed to pay for our property to be fumigated and have refunded the sale cost of the infested sofa's to which they collected and took to the local tip to be destroyed.Due to the delicate fabrics of some of our bedding, mattress, pillows and footwear the fumigators wasn't able to spray the poison on them which has left us out of pocket.In addition I have awful flea bites and have sent this evidence to the charity.Am I entitled to compensation including the distress caused by the fleas? Am happy to take the charity through the civil court although liability was admitted twice in person witnessed by myself and partner.
SJ - 4-Aug-16 @ 1:03 AM
Hi I wonder if I could ask your advice on a situation we found ourselves in of the evening 3/10/2015 5 adults and one child went to a local Chinese restaurant it was all you could eat £16.90 for adult and £8.80 for a child three adults and one child had the all you can eat menu (the grandmother said to our server that she had the wrong menu as there was a yellow menu and a pink menu the waitress told us that they were the same )two adults chose from the al cart menu all was fine until the bill came and I pointed out that they had charged for four adult all you can eat when they in formed us that there was a hight restriction on a child having to be under 120cm high to add insult to injury they proceeded to stand the child up and measure her in the restaurant this child is 10 years old and was mortified. They had also over charged for the wine we had and this was pointed out we caught them in two scams and they then chose to call us pigs as we left.the age of this group was 59 two adults of mid 60s and two of over 70
angie - 4-Oct-15 @ 11:29 AM
I visited a local bar in Bolton called Lush Bar Bradshaw gate; I needed to use the toilet facilities and was followed into the toilet by the security officer. he began to insult me and went onfor twenty minutes about my gender identity: saying I was a man and I wasn't allowed to be using the ladies tiolets. Iinformed him that I had gender documents confirming that I was female he didn't want to listen and through me out of Lush Bar, I phoned the police and he said to me Ithat we wouldn't,t want to get any body into trouble. I have not been out of the house to go into any bar since due to this and many more incidents
Dani - 8-Jun-15 @ 2:44 PM
hello, i was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1975. can you please advise me as to where i can read about cases where people have been prosecuted for discriminating against somebody on mental health grounds? i have never read of this in all this time. thank you
raz - 8-Sep-13 @ 3:41 PM
Without proper funding or a 'fast track' through the minefield of civil litigation, in all but the most trivial cases, the poor will always be discriminated against.
Michael Kerton - 27-Nov-12 @ 3:02 PM
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