The EU's strengthened right to repair - what does it mean for UK businesses?

The EU's strengthened right to repair - what does it mean for UK businesses?

The EUs strengthened right to repair- what does it mean for UK businesses?

The EU has recently formally adopted the “Right to Repair Directive” (see press release here), which intends to clarify the obligations for manufacturers to repair goods and encourage consumers to extend a product’s lifecycle through repair. The old adage “make do and mend” being positively encouraged to reduce consumer consumption and waste.

Now, at the consumer’s request, a manufacturer of a product captured within the repairability requirements (mainly household white goods) must repair it, unless repair is impossible.

Such repair:

  • Must be carried out either free of charge or for a reasonable price
  • Must be carried out within a reasonable period of time from the moment the manufacturer has physical possession of the good, has received the good or has been given access to the good by the consumer
  • The manufacturer may provide the consumer with the loan of a replacement good free of charge or for a reasonable fee for the duration of the repair, and
  • In cases where the repair is impossible, the manufacturer may offer the consumer a refurbished good

The obligations to repair will fall upon:

  • The manufacturer. If the manufacturer is established outside of the EU, it will fall upon
  • The authorised representative within the EU. If there is no authorised representative, it will fall upon
  • The importer of the good. Where there is no importer, it will fall upon
  • The distributor

Increasing the attractiveness of repair for consumers

The Right to Repair Directive also seeks to increase the attractiveness of repairing as an option for consumers. It has attempted to do this in a few ways, including providing an additional one-year extension to the legal guarantee where goods are repaired under warranty. As this is a Directive it has to be implemented into national law by member states and each member state is required to implement at least one measure to promote repairs. It will be interesting to see which measure is chosen. There is a grace period of 24 months to transpose the Directive into national law once approved by the Council.

An interesting addition is that manufacturers cannot now refuse to repair goods for the sole reason that a previous repair has been performed by another. Previously this could have invalidated a warranty.

Why does it matter to UK businesses?

There is no indication that UK will be implementing similar obligations at this stage. But UK businesses offering products on the EU market will need to consider the Right to Repair Directive.

It could impact the price the relevant entity within the EU (i.e. authorised representative, importer or distributor) is willing to pay for the goods, as they will have increased obligations (and therefore potentially risk) in relation to the goods. However, where companies are offering warranties already, the increased responsibility is not likely to be astronomical.

Changing the state of play?

The Right to Repair Directive predominantly applies to household white goods, a type of goods which consumers would typically look to repair rather than replace and which (anecdotally) no longer seem to last as long as they used to without a fault appearing. It will be interesting to see if this paves the way to promote repair rather than replacement in other sectors such as fashion goods

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