15th July 2014
On 13 June 2014, new regulations for consumer contracts took effect in the UK implementing legislation from Europe. The regulations replace the "distance selling" regulations and apply to all consumer contracts entered into on or after 13 June (save for a few specific exemptions).
The aim is for greater transparency, and businesses must provide specific pre-contract information to consumers and ensure their contracts contain certain compulsory terms. Both high street and online shopping is affected, with stricter requirements for "distance" of "off-site" contracts. For example, the "cooling off" period allowing customers to return goods not purchased in person has been extended from seven to 14 days, and extended to 12 months where insufficient pre-contract information was provided. Online payment buttons must be clearly labelled as resulting in an obligation to pay, and there can be no hidden charges or pre-ticked boxes for optional extras. Sellers are now required to deliver goods within 30 calendar days unless otherwise agreed and any goods remain the liability of the seller until delivered to the customer.
Both UK and overseas suppliers will be affected where they sell to UK consumers, as well as businesses acting through agents and subcontractors.
It is important that businesses take heed of these changes and ensure that they are compliant; if found in breach, they can be fined and their contracts could become unenforceable. We advise that all businesses supplying consumers in the UK review their sales contracts, particularly returns and cancellation policies.
Mundays LLP regularly advises businesses on commercial and consumer matters and can assist in ensuring compliance with the new regulations.
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