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What is Consumer Law?

Consumer LawA consumer is an individual who buys goods and services from manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. Every day, people buy these items for personal use, making them consumers. Consumer law provides protection (to the consumer) against issues such as fraud, mis-selling or any other dishonest tactics. There is a set of laws that regulate all related operations, but what exactly is consumer law and how can one become a lawyer specialising in this field? Read on to find out.

Understanding the Consumer Rights Act 2015

The Consumer Rights Act was enacted on 1st October 2015, and clearly defines consumer law in the UK and how people should solve disputes should they arise. According to research, consumers in the UK spend over £90 billion every month. Having transparent consumer rights helps them make better choices during their purchases.

When reading through the 2015 Act, consumers and businesses now know what to do in various scenarios, including:

  • When you find that the goods are faulty.
  • Matching up to the set agreements.
  • When unfair terms arise in a contract.
  • How competition in business should work.
  • Required routine inspections.
  • How public enforcers should approach these matters.

While most of the above were updates to the existing consumer laws, the Act saw a few new introductions. The rise of digital content, as a result of the internet, calls for extensive regulation. The Act gives consumers the right to replace or repair digital content, including online games and music downloads. All this has caused an evolution in the distribution and consumption of digital products.

Additionally, there have been clearer rules on what should happen if a service falls short of the expected skill previously agreed. For instance, if you contracted a painter for the job and they agreed to deliver high-quality service, you should get some compensation back if they cannot deliver as agreed.

What is a consumer lawyer?

What is the role of a consumer lawyer?

Consumer law encompasses various legal issues, including product liability and copyright. If you find yourself in such an issue, you need a consumer lawyer for legal assistance. Let’s have a look at the role of a consumer lawyer.

Investigating cases – consumer lawyers’ responsibilities vary greatly depending on the case they are involved in. However, most start by gathering the evidence in particular cases to build strong legal arguments.

Offer legal advice to their clients – with the case determined, the next thing a lawyer must do is to duly advise their clients on their consumer rights and legal options involved in the case. They will also help clients draft legal documents and procedures, including filing complaints and motions.

Represent clients in court – court cases can be mentally and physically draining. When a consumer is dealing with a case, it can be very risky to go at it alone. Whether the issue is product liability, fraud or unfair business practices, the organisation will have a lawyer. A consumer lawyer ensures that the consumer is well-represented in all legal proceedings.

Negotiate settlements – depending on the outcome of the court proceedings, a consumer lawyer may also help their clients negotiate better settlements with the opposing counsel (outside court). Negotiating such cases can be hard on a consumer, especially when they have already suffered mental and physical anguish. A consumer lawyer ensures the clients get the best settlement for the case.

5 skills you need to specialise in consumer law

What is consumer law?If you are looking to study and become a consumer lawyer, there are a few skills that you should cultivate:

Analytical skills – a good lawyer must have a sharp intellect and excellent analytical skills. This will come in handy when analysing complex legal issues and developing viable legal strategies.

Written and verbal communication skills – consumer lawyers must have great interpersonal skills to deal with different clients and negotiate with the opposing counsel. Writing and documentation ensure they are accurate and have all the required information to enforce legal contracts.

Problem-solving skills – since they will occasionally face complex legal issues, consumer lawyers must be good at solving problems with sound judgment.

Time-management skills – proper time management ensures that lawyers can meet their deadlines and handle different cases simultaneously.

Specialise in consumer law – consumer law is sensitive and requires understanding all the intricacies. Being a good consumer lawyer means that you should be able to research and find all the relevant information needed to build a case.

Where can you study an LLM in Consumer Law?

Studying consumer law has become more accessible in the 21st century. Within the last decades, learning institutions and universities now have an abundance of LLM courses, including online options, where you can study general LLM programs which include a consumer law module – simply find a reputable school and enrol for your preferred LLM. Some current choices you can select from include the University of Essex and Manchester Metropolitan University in the UK, and the University of Melbourne in Australia. It all depends on your preferences and financial reach.

Your choice of LLM will depend on your field of interest or where you have previously worked. For example, if you are looking to specialise in consumer law but in the corporate world, you are well advised to choose an LLM in Corporate Law – as the consumer law modules will be more targeted to your field of interest and future career. With this understanding, you can pick a course and propel your career in the legal field.

If you choose online or part-time classes, you may take up to 24 months, or even longer, to complete, while a full-time, physical class option usually takes a shorter time on one year. However, if you opt for a part-time or online LLM program, you have a chance to study and work at the same time, potentially experiencing consumer law on the ground.

Careers in consumer law

There are many exciting career opportunities for consumer solicitors, including:

Government agencies – government agencies recruit consumer lawyers to enforce consumer protection laws. These lawyers can really help make a difference to policy, rules and regulations concerning consumer law and consumer protection.

Non-profit organisations – NPOs, like the Citizens Advice Bureau, lawyers that specialise in consumer law to provide legal advice and advocate for consumers' rights.

Private law firms – some private law firms specialise in consumer law, and this is regulated in the UK by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Bar Standards Board (BSB).

Large corporations – large multinational corporations and businesses will employ their own team of lawyers, including consumer lawyers, to ensure the company adheres to the correct consumer-related rules and regulations.


Consumer law is a broad branch of the legal framework. It is involved in the day-to-day activities of consumer goods, services and even warranties. Specialising in this field will enable you to to safeguard the consumer from dishonest tactics and help organisations protect their intellectual property rights from theft and copyrighting. Understanding how this branch of law works ensures that consumers know their rights and companies fulfil their required directives.

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