In the guide

Services are provided by businesses such as accountants, dry cleaners, paid-parking providers, home maintenance firms and motor vehicle repairers

A legal contract for the supply of a service exists between you and your customer. This means that you are responsible for the services that you provide.

The law sets out requirements for the performance of the service, time limits for legal action, and what customers are entitled to when something goes wrong.

These rules apply whether or not you also supply goods and/or digital content as part of the same contract.

If you supply goods and/or digital content as well (for example, materials used on a job, or fitting a kitchen / installing block paving you have supplied) there are additional rules that apply to you, so you'll need to read the Quick Guides 'Goods' and 'Digital'.

Services: your obligations

If you supply services you have legal responsibilities, which means you must carry out the service:

  • with reasonable care and skill
  • in accordance with anything you or your agents / employees have told the consumer
  • within a reasonable time (if the time was not fixed as part of the contract)
  • at a reasonable charge (if the price was not fixed in advance as part of the contract)

You should carry out only the work that had been agreed or authorised by the consumer. If extra work is needed, get the consumer's permission before you go ahead.

What is 'reasonable' generally depends on what is acceptable practice for your particular trade or profession.

Back to top

What customers are entitled to

If the service was not carried out correctly, the consumer can require you to put the problem right. If this is impossible or unsuccessful, the consumer is entitled to a reduction in price. Alternatively, the consumer may be able to claim compensation for losses suffered or for the cost of having the work put right by someone else.

If the service was not carried out within a reasonable time, the consumer is entitled to a reduction in price.

Card payments and credit
There are additional rules that apply when you accept card payments or offer credit.

Please see the 'Pricing and payment' Quick Guide for more information.

Back to top

Time for action

The law sets a time limit for customers to take legal action. In England and Wales this time limit is generally six years from when the service goes wrong; in Scotland the limit is five years, but this runs from the time the customer first discovered the problem (broadly speaking).

Back to top


If a consumer is unhappy with the quality of your work, you are obliged to put the problem right free of charge. If you are in dispute with the consumer about whether or not the work is of poor quality, then the consumer needs to prove their claim.

Selling online, by phone / mail order or off-premises
Consumers may have extra rights, including the right to a 14 day cooling-off period in which they can cancel an agreed contract, when they buy at a distance (online, phone, mail order, etc) or off-premises (such as at their home).

When you've finished reading this, take a look at our 'Distance sales' and 'Off-premises sales' Quick Guides if these apply to you.

Back to top


You are legally bound to honour the terms of any free guarantee you offer to consumers.

For more detailed information please see the In-depth Guides below. Once you've finished, make sure you look at the full range of Quick Guides to see whether there are any other areas of law that affect your business.

Before you start
Make sure you choose your location using the drop-down list at the top of the page. The In-depth Guides provide country-specific information as some laws are different in England, Scotland and Wales, and some are enforced differently.

Back to top

In-depth guidance

This is a general guide and you may well need to know more; take a look below where we've listed our In-depth Guides on specific topics related to the supply of services


Accurate descriptions

The law prohibits the giving of false or misleading information to consumers, but what does this mean?

Consumer protection from unfair trading

When dealing with consumers you must ensure that you act fairly; you must provide accurate information and avoid business practices that are unfair, misleading or aggressive

Mixed contracts

Understand your obligations when you sell goods, services and/or digital content alongside each other

Online reviews and endorsements

Websites that publish reviews must ensure they provide the full picture to consumers

Unfair contract terms

Contract terms are not binding on consumers unless they are fair

Supplying services

Understand what your obligations are – under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 – when you supply services to a consumer


Property descriptions: sale or let

What you need to know about applying descriptions to a property

Landlords, letting agents and property management

Requirements regarding the fees that may be charged to clients by landlords, letting agents and property management businesses; and the display of fees and membership of client money protection schemes

Motor vehicle servicing and repairs

Make sure you meet consumers' expectations when carrying out vehicle servicing and repairs

Package travel and holidays

Guidance on the legal requirements concerning organisers and retailers of package holidays and related travel arrangement contracts made with consumers

Sale and resale of tickets

Consumers must not be misled about ticket details, and certain information must be given to the prospective purchaser when tickets are resold

IVF fertility clinics

Clinics offering fertility treatment must abide by consumer law

Environmental ('green') claims

Businesses need to ensure that environmental claims made about their products or services are not misleading

What type of feedback would you like to leave
1a-User type
2a-User type
3a-User type
4a-User type

Consumer enquiries from England, Scotland and Wales are handled by the Citizens Advice Consumer Service who can be contacted by telephone on 03454 04 05 06. Consumer enquiries in Northern Ireland are handled by ConsumerLine who can be contacted by telephone on 0300 1236262. Call charges may vary.

How many years have you been trading?
How many employees are there in your business?

Business enquiries are dealt with by your local council. Use the Chartered Trading Standards Institute's postcode finder to locate your local trading standards team.

Are you satisfied? Did this site answer your question?