New consumer protection regulations

Suppliers of goods to the public should be aware that the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 apply to contracts concluded on or after 13 June 2014. The Regulations implement into UK law the EU Consumer Rights Directive, which covers all consumer contracts for goods and services and is intended to harmonise and simplify consumer protection rules across EU member states.

The Regulations replace the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 and the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc. Regulations 2008 (often referred to as the ‘Doorstep Selling Regulations’).

Many of the information provisions are already required by existing legislation and will be familiar to traders. However, some are new, for example the requirement when supplying digital content to provide information on what systems or hardware it will work with.

Schedule 1 to the Regulations lists the information that must be provided for on-premises contracts and Schedule 2 lists the information to be provided for distance and off-premises contracts. Where a contract is made at the consumer’s premises, the Regulations make any of the required information supplied to the consumer a term of the contract.

Cancellation rights will continue to apply to off-premises and distance contracts only.

All distance and off-premises sellers covered by the Regulations must provide the cancellation form set out in Schedule 3 to the Regulations. The cancellation period is extended from 7 calendar days (for off-premises) and 7 working days (for distance sales) to 14 calendar days for both in order to give consumers more time to change their minds.

There are specific provisions regarding delivery times, the passing of risk and the conduct of telesales calls and electronic contracts.

There are also a number of other requirements imposed on traders, in particular as regards various ‘sharp practices’ such as ‘inertia selling’ (sending unrequested goods, followed by an invoice for the price of the goods if householders do not return them) and charging over the odds for calls to helplines.

Click here for Guidance on the Regulations Traders should familiarise themselves with the new rules as failure to comply can lead to a significant fine so contact us to ensure that your trading practices comply with the law.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

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