Home > Contracts & Law > Contracts for Goods: Your Statutory Rights

Contracts for Goods: Your Statutory Rights

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 3 Dec 2019 |
Consumer Contracts Statutory Rights

When you buy goods as a consumer, which means that you are buying them from a seller who is selling you those goods in the course of a business (trader), there are certain statutory rights that accompany the purchase. These rights aren’t generally contained in a written contract but are implied, because they are codified in the law.

You will often see on terms and conditions of sale the words ‘Your statutory rights are not affected.’ This means that the seller is not trying to evade the obligations provided by law. The law that applies in relation to sales of goods to consumers is the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended).

Your Rights

There are three requirements under the legislation. If any one or more of these is not complied with, it is the trader’s responsibility to rectify the problem. These are as follows:


The goods must correlate with their description. This applies to second hand goods and antiques as well as to new goods. However, it would not be a breach of contract for a trader to add to a description, for example, ‘actual colour may vary’ or ‘not to scale’. This is because the requirement for traders is to ensure that the goods ‘conform to contract.’

Failure to describe the goods accurately, aside from breaching the contract with the consumer, may also mean that the trader is in breach of the Trade Descriptions Act. The description of goods also applies to its price, although advertising a false or misleading price would also mean that the trader would be in breach of advertising standards regulations.

Satisfactory Quality

The goods that you buy as a consumer must be of a certain quality. This is a relative requirement in that something that is cheaply made is expected to be of a lesser quality than its luxury equivalent. For example, one shirt costs £8, whereas the other costs £80. One is made of very cheap material, the other of fine fabric. As long as both of them are safe, have no defects and are capable of being worn as shirts they will fulfil the requirement of satisfactory quality.

Fitness for Purpose

Your purchase should also be ‘fit for purpose.’ This means that it should be capable of doing what it is meant to do. For example, a washing machine should be capable of washing clothes. If, at the time you are making the purchase, you tell the trader that you require it for a particular purpose, they should tell you if it is not suitable for the specific purpose. For example, if you bought a jacket and told the seller you were buying it because you wanted to keep dry while on your Cumbrian walking holiday, they would be in breach of contract if they failed to tell you that the jacket was not waterproof.

Your Right to Reject the Goods

If the trader breaches any one of these rights under the Sale of Goods Act, you as consumer are entitled to reject the goods, provided you do so within a ‘reasonable time.’ The length of time that is considered ‘reasonable’ is not prescribed by law and varies depending on the nature of the goods. However, consumers are entitled to ask for a replacement or for a repair (as long as the cost is not prohibitive, in which case a replacement may be more suitable) at any time up to a maximum of six years after the original purchase.

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I purchased a vehicle through a finance company from a dealer. I broke down 2 weeks later and contacted the dealer who advised me to take it to his mechanic he plugged in a diagnostic machine and it came up with a fault with the injector the mechanic ordered the part a couple of days later I took the car to him he said he had fixed the issue on the way home I noticed the car was still loosing power on the following day I broke down again. I had a mechanic plug a diagnostic machine into the car and it shows there is still a fault with the injector as I’ve had the car for less than 3 weeks and I’ve had these issues and it’s not reliable as I cannot drive it without the risk of it breaking down I would like to return it under the right to reject and I’m within my 30 day period the dealer is refusing to accept the car back any advice would be great ??
Machine1uk - 3-Dec-19 @ 12:08 PM
I have signed a agreement on doors and windows. 20k....I paid 2500 deposit in June. On the front of the agreement it says that all Windows and doors to be fitted in 5 to 7 weeks from deposit date. So paid and signed. Now I keep getting my date pushed back. End of September now as there builder is in dispute with them. So I have really lost faith in this large company and I don't want to proceed with them. I contacted them today to ask to cancel and I was told I am liable to pay 80per cent of bill..... What do I do now please help
Braddow121 - 25-Jul-18 @ 7:20 PM
@Spanners - your agreement was with the former club owners. If you don't have any rights if the ownership has changed hands and the current owners don't offer such a promotion.
Aid67 - 12-Jun-17 @ 1:00 PM
I joined a gym and rackets club 5 years ago on a promotion that gave me a "Price for life" , and allowed me to access the tennis facilities on a restricted bases (10.00 to 1600) and join in on the Tennis Club night.The club changed hands but I enjoyed all the facilities and costs as before. Now the club has changed hands again.They do not recognise my previous promotional membership cost and use of the facilities and say I must pay more. Have I any rights?
Spanners - 12-Jun-17 @ 7:44 AM
I had a Reno done on my house 2 years ago on an agreed price of $85,000 the builder agreed and l paid him upfront agreeing to pay the remainder in installments over the course of the build the cost blew out to $100,000 which l reluctantly paid.One year after the build he now says he sent me an invoice for $120,000 And l.owe him $20,000 And is sueing me for that amount he did send me an invoice but l received it 1 year after the Reno was completed.
Trev - 14-Jan-17 @ 10:10 PM
I purchased a number of large foam dice and a toss hoop set from an online retailer. When the goods arrived, they had sent the wrong item instead of tge hoop set. I telephoned them as soon as it arrived as I needed the actual product for the Sunday and this was the Thursday. Anyway, when I called man I spoke to was incredibly helpful and apologetic. He said that we could keep the other item as a good will gesture for their error and that he would send the real item for delivery the next day. I was really pleased. After the phone all, I opened the rest of the products and noticed that one of the large dice was damaged. It had splits in the foam and several holes on the surface. I called them straightback up to let them know. Another colleague answered the call and asked me to email photos, which I did straight away. He replied shortly after to say that he had checked his stock and theit remaining stock was the same. He said that I could return it for a refund if I wished. When I replied to say I was disappointed as I would have preferred a replacement and asked him how to organise refund and return, he telephoned and said that he would arrange collection of the dice and the other product which has been sent in error. I explained that this had already been given to me as a good will gesture for their error and that the issue with that product was resolved. He initially said that if I wanted to keep the other product then I should just accept the dice and then changed his mind and said whether I wanted a refund or not he was gong to collect the other product. I feel really dissatisfied with the outcome as I am now left with one dice short for the forthcoming event, waiting for delivery of the product I initally ordered and having to return a product which was offered to me FOC for their error and consequently opened and played with by the kids. Do I have any rights?
Elmo - 17-Nov-16 @ 6:06 PM
I visited a car dealership and was told the price of a car which I agreed was good . I was offered the vehicle order form to check over details including price signed and put down a deposit with a view of paying the remaining balance in 3 days.On the third day I was contacted by dealership to say the agreed price was a pricing error and would now not be approved. Where do I stand legally as they've moved the goal post? Any advice appreciated.
Luckybme - 14-Jul-16 @ 9:43 PM
I have recently signed a contract to purchase a new car in March (with the new plates as suggested by the retailer as the car with optional extras would have to be made for me at the factory) and had negotiated a reduction in the price to match an offer from another dealership elsewhere in the country.In order for the retailer to make this offer they had to obtain a code from the area manager.This was processed by the retail manager and the contract signed by myself and the retail assistant.The retail assistant has now came back and said that the area manager misunderstood the terms and it had to be for this month only, but there isn't a car available with a reversing camera (an optional extra I chose) for this month.Would they be in breach of contract?If it is their miscommunication can they now change the terms of the contract after entering into it in good faith? Hope you can assist.
Ian - 26-Dec-15 @ 10:59 AM
@chatter - I don't think you have much recourse here, as no work on a car would cost £7.66, including labour costs too. They must have also given you an explanation of what was wrong with the car and a breakdown of the work that needed doing. I think you are going to have to put this one down to experience, I'm afraid.
ContractsAndAgreements - 15-May-15 @ 12:23 PM
I took my car to the dealer to have repairs. They gave me a full break down of costs verbally over the phone and after works finished more needed doing, they gave me the next quote over the phone too of "seven sixty six". Stupidly I thought this was £7.66 and ok'd the work. I turn up to collect the car with the bill being£1100! What the dealer meant was 'seven hundred and sixty six pounds plus VAT'! So a HUGE discrepancy.I voiced my shock but handed over my credit card, laughing it off with the dealer that I "can hardly ask you to take it back off the car" but now following letters to the dealer and the manufacturer I have had 2 replies both "cannot be responsible for what you thought you heard". Where do I stand now???
chatter - 13-May-15 @ 6:58 PM
@martin - it seems like this could clearly be breach of contract given you have already paid the deposit as you have already committed to a contract on the terms and price agreed. In the first instance you could put forward a letter stating the dealership is in breach of contract and that you will seek legal advice if the car is not sold to you on the terms agreed. While in a normal retail situations, if something has been very heavily discounted and it is clear that an error has occurred, the trader could say that it was obvious that they had no intention to form a contract at that price. However, in your situation it has gone rather further down the line and money had been exchanged in good faith and therefore it could come under the Misrepresentation Act, as you have already entered into a contract .If the dealership do not honour the price after the letter is sent, then I would seek some legal advice. I hope this helps.
ContractsAndAgreements - 5-Feb-15 @ 12:32 PM
A price for a car was advertised and having access to a manufacturers staff discount was very attractive. Having confirmed through the dealer that the manufacturers staff discount could be applied a price was quoted firstly to an enquiry and then to the purchaser. A special code was obtained from the manufacturer and given to the dealer along with a deposit by debit card and the price confirmed.Subsequently the dealer recontacted the buyer to say that there had been a mistake in the calculations and the original price advertised had already had a discount equal to the manufaturers special discount applied and that they could not sell the car at the price quoted.Where do I stand, was there a verbal contract confirmed by debit card established?
martin - 3-Feb-15 @ 3:56 PM
I bought an item of makeup from Ideal World shopping channel which, after opening, was all dried up and claggy.I have e-mailed the customer services many times to advise that I haven't changed my mind and that the item is not fit for purpose and they just keep sending me an e-mail back saying I cannot return as it is outside of the 14 day money back guarantee.These customer services personnel all seem to be non uk citizens and I'm not even sure they are aware of consumer rights. What do I do now?
sue - 23-Jul-13 @ 7:56 PM
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