Consumer letter before action for sale of faulty goods bought from a business (England & Wales)

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What is a consumer letter before action for sale of faulty goods bought from a business (England and Wales), and when do you need one?

Use this letter when:

  • you’re acting as a consumer buying goods in your personal capacity, (vs representing a business and buying goods for commercial use within that business)
  • you’ve already complained to the seller (ideally using the consumer complaint letter about faulty goods bought from a business template) and
  • you’ve either not received a reply from the seller, or, the seller did reply, but did not agree to give you what you requested, and
  • Your transaction took place in England or Wales.

If you’re a business wanting to complain about another business, not a consumer, please use our separate business complaints suites.

This template:

  • covers drafting options for where you’ve had no reply from the seller and
  • covers the drafting options for where the reply isn’t what you wanted, and
  • puts the seller on notice that unless you get a satisfactory reply to this follow-up letter, you are likely to take further action. It allows you to raise Alternative Dispute Resolution, which is a recommended solution in situations such as these – and the courts expect you to have considered it before going to them for help. It gives you the option to mention complaining to the relevant ombudsman, if this your complaint relates to an area of goods/products that are covered by an Ombudsman; and also raises the prospect of a court claim if the seller does not agree to ADR/does not reply.

Before you take this course of action, it’s advisable to have a quick chat with an expert who can help you to evaluate your prospects of success either in ADR, with an ombudsman or before a court. Going to court should also be a last resort and you should ensure you can show you’ve considered/attempted all reasonable alternatives first.

In particular, if you’re dealing with a seller who has replied but who disagrees that you are entitled to a refund or replacement of the faulty goods, it is highly advisable to see if you can get the seller to provide you with what’s often called a ‘letter of deadlock’: essentially, a letter confirming that the seller has not been able to resolve your complaint and acknowledging that you remain dissatisfied. This is a key piece of evidence, in your favour, that supports you seeking assistance from the above 3rd-party solution providers, proving that you have reasonably tried to reach a resolution on your own and been unable to do so.

This template has been drafted to ensure that it includes the key items of information required for a letter before action in England and Wales, so it is highly advisable to complete (as directed) and not to delete (except to select the appropriate drafting option) the wording provided.

For a letter before action to be validly formatted, it must include:

  • Your name and address
  • A clear summary of the facts
  • What you want the seller to do in response to what’s happened
  • How much money you’ll be claiming for
  • Your deadline for a reply – normally 14 days for straightforward cases – which most cases are; 3 months for more complex ones
  • That a lack of reply or an unsatisfactory reply, will result in you starting court proceedings
  • What the court rules are, that you must both follow – this is the wording provided in relation to the Practice Direction and the paragraphs explaining the sanctions imposed on those who don’t comply with it.

Help now and later

If you’d like help with your complaint and/or considering your options, you can use our speak to an adviser service, where a qualified expert can talk you through your options, and help you to decide the right next steps for you.

Our guide: how to bring a consumer complaint against a business, contains more background and instructions on the wider context of consumer complaints and what to expect.

If you don’t have insurance cover for the situation – always check your insurance policies to see whether they come with claims support – you can bring your claim by following the steps described here.

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