02 Dec 2014The Regulations, which replaced the previous Distance Selling Regulations and Off Premises Regulations, have applied since June 2014. However, our experience is that many businesses have either failed to take any notice of the regulations or have failed to make the necessary changes to their terms and conditions. Given that, here’s a quick summary of some of the key provisions:
- All traders are required to provide consumers with certain pre-contractual information before entering into any contract - this includes arrangements for payment, delivery and complaints. Distance (including online retailers) and off-premises traders must give this information and confirmation of the contract in a 'durable medium' within a reasonable period. Failure to provide the necessary information could result in a fine.
- Express consent is required for additional payments. Pre-ticked boxes which create an obligation to pay are not permitted - an active step by the consumer is required.
- The cancellation, or 'cooling-off', period for distance and off-premises contracts is increased from 7 working days to 14 calendar days. Where the right is exercised, traders must reimburse all payments (including delivery charges) within 14 days of receiving the goods back.
- Any help-line which allows the consumer to contact the trader in connection with the contract may only be charged for at the basic rate.
- The Regulations also introduced certain requirements in relation to 'digital content' including an obligation to provide additional pre-contract information regarding the functionality of the content (e.g. DRM, territory restrictions and compatibility).
If you sell anything online to consumers, you need to be aware of these regulations and you also need to ensure your terms and conditions, as well as your online order processing and information provisions, align with the new regulations. If you don’t, you risk (as a minimum) your consumer contracts being void and unenforceable.
If you would like to understand the full implications of this new legislation, give us a call.