Business, Innovation and SkillsWritten evidence submitted by Glass and Glazing Federation

The Glass and Glazing Federation (GGF) is the leading authority for employers and companies within the flat glass, glazing, home improvement, plastics and window film industries, and has over 500 members who can be found in over 1,500 business locations throughout the UK.

Our members are required to meet high entry standards and must show proof of previous experience, as well as meet a number of qualifying criteria. Once they are accepted as a member they are continually vetted by the GGF, must follow our “Code of Good Practice” and are expected to work to standards as laid out in the GGF’s “Glazing Manual”. Given our focus on providing high standards to consumers, the GGF is supportive of moves to increase consumer protection; however, we have a number of key concerns with the current Draft Bill of Rights which have been outlined below.

Making the Bill Work for Complex Goods

The GGF is concerned that the proposed Draft Bill of Rights was drafted with single, whole products in mind (such as fridges, televisions, cameras etc.) rather than more complex products and processes such as replacement glazing and the installation of these types of complex goods. As a result, the GGF is concerned that the nuances of these types of goods and services have not been adequately addressed in the Draft Bill, which could lead to significant dangers for those involved in the glazing sector.

Making the Distinction Between Minor Works and Significant Defects

The most concerning aspect of the Draft Bill in its current form is in clause 24 subsection 3(a), which states that there will be just one opportunity for repair or replacement within a reasonable time where the goods do not conform to the contract before a consumer can reject them and request a refund. This does not translate well to the complexity of the goods installed by the glazing industry. For example, an installer might replace a marked or damaged sealed unit following installation and then as a consequence of fitting the replacement, that same window might then require replacement seals or beads. In addition, because glass is not optically perfect it is possible that a marked glass sealed unit may be replaced with one also marked, however it is not apparent until that new unit has been installed in situ. Given the complexity of these goods, it can happen on many occasions that one fault can occur whilst remedying another.

The GGF would therefore strongly request that the legislation make the distinction between minor works under guarantee (adjustments—eg scratched handle; marked glass sealed unit) and significant defects that require the whole frame to be replaced (excessive damage/wrong design/mismeasure etc).

The GGF would also support the inclusion of separate rules in the new Bill of Rights for building and home improvement work because the Draft Bill in its current form does not make things clear for a consumer where there is a mixture of goods and services. Although the GGF accepts that the Draft Bill is not intended to change the current law except for the 30 days right to reject goods, it appears that this change from the current law where there is a reasonable time to reject, would not be workable in the case of installed goods as a result of the above mentioned points. The Bill should be simple and easy for both consumers and businesses to understand in order for it to be of real value.

Clarifying Legal Rights as a Result of Restitution in Integrum

There is currently confusion over the legal position of glazing products as a result of restitutio in integrum. The GGF is aware of cases many years ago where removal of windows from a consumer’s home took place when the consumer had not made payment. The courts found this to be criminal damage, as upon installation the window then becomes part of the fabric of the property and belongs to the consumer, whether paid for or not. As a result under the current law, consumers have not been entitled to a refund for any windows on the basis that restitutio in integrum was not possible; it is common practice for the trader to provide repairs/replacements (to a reasonable number) to remedy installed products which are not of satisfactory quality. Indeed, consumer advice in the market place, such as that on the Citizens Advice website, advises consumers that repairs or replacements are the general remedy to progress.1 The GGF would urge the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to provide clarity on this point.

In addition to this, the recently published draft regulations on misleading and aggressive practices state that rescission (unwinding) is not possible if the service has been performed, eg a window has been installed.2 The GGF believes that this should be the same in the case of replacement window and other home improvement installations. This is particularly pertinent given that in 99% of cases any new windows installed are specifically made to the order of the consumer and the dimensions of their property, therefore unwinding is not practicably possible where installation has taken place. Furthermore, the windows if removed have effectively no value as they have fixing holes and sealant affixed and as a result would be “second hand” and non-resaleable. There is effectively no second-hand market for used windows specifically made to a consumer’s order.

Protecting Businesses and Preventing Rogue Consumers

The main concern of the GGF is that a consumer could reject a houseful of windows, or even a whole conservatory, based on one fault, even if the installation was satisfactory. If the consumer’s way of making the goods available to the trader was then to request that the windows be taken out, that would be an added cost to the trader. Once a window is fitted it becomes part of the fabric of the property, and if a trader had to refund the price of the whole contract for the goods to the consumer, it would not be worthwhile for the trader to then undertake the extra work of taking out the windows which he would then not be able to sell because as previously mentioned, there is essentially no second hand market. There is also the practical and legal problem of the trader being unable to remove the windows because upon installation they became part of the fabric of the property.

The GGF is concerned that rogue consumers could capitalise on this by viewing this right of rejection as something to exploit in order to get free windows, and this could lead to severe problems for the many companies operating in this industry. It is vital that businesses, particularly the many SMEs that operate in this industry, are protected by this Bill as well as consumers, and are not inadvertently made vulnerable to rogue consumers.


As mentioned above, the GGF has a number of key concerns regarding the Draft Bill which we believe could have a seriously damaging effect on the industries providing more complex goods and services than we believe were in mind when drafting the Bill. We would encourage BIS to recognise and address these issues in order to provide adequate protection for both consumers and businesses. One of the main aims of the Draft Bill is to make things simple for consumers and business to understand; as the Bill is currently drafted it is not clear what is to happen in the case of a fault in home improvement products which have been installed, where the consumer could in theory reject the goods for that one fault and expect a refund.

The GGF will willingly liaise with BIS Officials to assist them on these points raised, alongside other concerned parties in the construction industry if required.

27 August 2013



Prepared 20th December 2013