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How Recent Changes in Business Law Could Affect You How Recent Changes in Business Law Could Affect You

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Jun 14

How Recent Changes in Business Law Could Affect You

Written by Phil Parkinson

DDI: 01423 724606
E: phil.parkinson@raworths.co.uk

On 13 June 2014, changes came into force which alter the way businesses deal with consumers. The Distance Selling Regulations 2000 are being replaced by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. If your business deals with consumers, you will need to be aware of the changes and in particular, the rights that consumers have when they form contracts with you.

As a business, if you have been trading with consumers you will be aware of various rights that the consumer had. The new Regulations keep a lot of the old requirements but also add some new ones of which you should be aware.

Important changes

Many obligations are changing, but key obligations include:

  • Cancellation rights will still apply for contracts that are carried out ‘off premises’ or ‘distance contracts’. Commonly known as the cooling-off period, this will change from 7 days to 14 calendar days. This is drafted so that it gives the consumer more time to change their minds but they must return the items within 14 days of cancellation. Examples of contracts that are ‘off premises’ or at a distance are contracts concluded on the phone or online sales, or even when visiting a consumer’s house;
  • The obligation to provide more pre-contract information to consumers. Schedule 1 of the Regulations lists the information to be provided for ‘on premises’ contracts and Schedule 2 lists the information to be provided for distance and ‘off premises’ contracts;
  • The introduction of a 12 month cancellation period if the supplier fails to provide relevant information to the consumer;
  • Where cancellation rights exist, all distance and off-premises sellers covered by the Regulations will need to provide the cancellation form set out in Schedule 3 to the Regulations.
  • Where a telephone helpline is provided, not charging the consumer more than the basic rate to phone about post-contract issues.
  • For online sales, the consumer must explicitly acknowledge any obligation to pay. (For example, a button that says ‘pay now’).

What initial steps can you take?

You should review your terms and conditions with consumers to make sure that they reflect the new Regulations. The Schedules to the Regulations as referred to above are a good start to check what information you need to give to consumers before a contract. Make sure you make clear to the consumer all costs they will incur (including payment for returns if they cancel, if that is usual for your business).

This article deals with the new Regulations in general, but for a more bespoke response to your situation, please take legal advice.

Phil Parkinson is a solicitor in the Corporate / Commercial unit. To contact Raworths telephone 01423 566666 or visit our offices at Eton House, 89 Station Parade, Harrogate, HG1 1HF. Alternatively, you can email Phil – phil.parkinson@raworths.co.uk

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