How to use your consumer lawyer

Consumer lawyers are UK-qualified solicitors and barristers who specialise in consumer matters. The need for consumer lawyers to specialise in this area of law is partly due to the highly complex nature of consumer law.

What is consumer law?

The basis of consumer law is a legal dilemma: on the one hand it is a long-established principle of English law that private parties should be allowed to contract as freely as possible with each other, whilst on the other hand in recent years there has been a need to protect consumers from unfair contractual terms. The two needs are balanced through a series of Parliamentary Acts and many previous court decisions.

Consumer lawyers are mostly employed to fulfil one of two tasks:

  • Either to help commercial entities draft legally binding consumer contracts
  • To help consumers (or consumer groups) benefit from their legal consumer rights

What are my consumer rights?

For example, if a company has been selling damaged goods and is refusing to offer refunds to its customers, consumer lawyers can help the aggrieved customers seek compensation or bring a claim against the company.

When you agree to buy any goods or services from a shop or store - whether this is on or offline - you have a number of rights that are protected under consumer law. These are often referred to as your statutory rights.

Consumer laws such as the Sale of Goods Act and the Distance Selling Regulations give you a range of rights that must at all times be protected by the business selling you the goods or services.

If at any time you feel that your rights are not being protected, you could be in a position to bring a court case against the business that made the sale to you. In these cases, the services of a consumer lawyer can be invaluable. In many cases a consumer lawyer will be able to interpret the terms and conditions under which the contract of sale was made.

Why should I use a solicitor?

If you are involved in a dispute regarding a consumer matter, you could benefit greatly from the professional advice of consumer lawyers. Consumer law varies in application depending on:

  • The industry
  • The relationship between the parties;
  • The value of the goods or service agreed upon
  • The parties themselves

Attempting to resolve a legal dispute without the guidance of a solicitor could result in an unjust resolution which leaves you with no possibility to seek further compensation.

A consumer lawyer can often enable you to resolve your dispute as they can act as your representative as you negotiate with the company you are in dispute with. However, in more serious cases, a lawyer can also help you prepare your case for court. If a dispute cannot be resolved amicably, you can use the courts to make a judgement.

Try and contact a consumer lawyer as soon as you can. Some consumer rights have a time limit, and delaying your case could mean you won’t be able to take your dispute to court. Never attempt to bring your case to a court alone. Consumer law is complex and often open to interpretation.

For detailed information on refunds and replacements, see our page on buying faulty goods.

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