Who to pursue for a breach of a consumer guarantee?

The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) provides a range of consumer guarantees for goods including, but not limited to:

  • Guarantee as to acceptable quality;
  • Guarantee as to fitness for any disclosed purpose;
  • Guarantee to supply by description;
  • Guarantee relating to supply by sample or demonstration model.

But who is the most appropriate party to go after if a guarantee is not complied with? Is it the retailer – the business that you purchased the goods from? Or is it the manufacturer – the business the makes, assembled or branded the goods?

It depends.

Generally, the Australia Consumer Law directs you as the consumer to go to the business that you purchased the goods from –the supplier. The thinking here is that the retailer is who the consumer has a contractual relationship with, and it is common for there to be no direct relationship between the consumer and the manufacturer.

However, there are several factors to consider which may ultimately determine whether you pursue the retailer or the manufacturer or both.

The type of guarantee breached can influence your decision. For instance, if the breach is of a guarantee as to repairs and spare parts, an action against a manufacturer is commonly most suited.

The remedies that you are seeking may also influence your decision. There is no provision under the ACL that requires a manufacturer to repair or replace goods that do not comply with the statutory guarantees. On the other hand, there is a statutory basis for a retailer to replace or repair goods.

The time limit to bring an action for a failure to comply with a consumer guarantee may also impact your decision making. The time limit for an action against a manufacturer is 3 years. The time limit for an action against a retailer is a reasonable time.

Putting together a legal strategy taking into consideration all of the factors noted above will lead to the best outcome. If you would like assistance with a consumer matter, please contact us on 5434 6666.