ContractAlert - 6 June 2014

Welcome to the June 2014 edition of ContractAlert.

This issue of ContractAlert is devoted to the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. You can read the Regulations here:

The Regulations come into force next week, on Friday 13th.  If you only sell to other businesses, you can safely ignore the Regulations. But if you sell goods, services or digital content to consumers under distance contracts or off-premises contracts then bad luck, for you probably have some work to do.

The Regulations introduce major changes to consumer protection law, fixing some of the problems with the old law, but creating new ones too. The key changes include:

  1. An extended cancellation period for B2C distance and off-premises contracts: 14 days instead of 7 working days.
  2. In the event of cancellation of a distance contract for the sale of goods, a specific right for the seller to claim (and deduct from any refund) losses caused by the use of the goods going beyond that which would be permitted in a shop.
  3. The provision of services with consent during the cancellation period does not eliminate the cancellation right any more. Instead, if the contract is cancelled during that period, after the commencement of the services but before their completion, the customer is only entitled to a refund/release of a proportionate amount of the charges paid. The calculation of this amount may be a point of conflict between traders and customers.
  4. Even more pernickety informational and procedural requirements have been introduced, including legally approved wording for website order buttons! If a trader does not comply, a range of different problems and penalties may result.
  5. There are special rules for digital content, which was previously dealt with as a service.
  6. New rules governing the delivery of products and passage of risk in products have been introduced.

For an overview of compliance in relation to distance sales, see my post from Wednesday:

For sample clauses to aid compliance, see:

Note: The existing distance selling laws (in the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000 as amended) and doorstep selling laws (in the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer's Home or Place of Work etc Regulations 2008) are being entirely replaced by the new Regulations.

Questions about the Regulations

Any questions? You can get free guidance on the Regulations using our public Q&A system:

Template updates

As a result of these regulations, all those SEQ templates that are affected by consumer law have been updated.

  • T&C of sale via a website (B2C and mixed versions) and returns policy.
  • Online shop packs (B2C and mixed versions).
  • T&Cs of website use including consumer ecommerce elements (marketplace, subscription, dating and classifieds).
  • Online booking T&Cs (B2C and mixed versions).
  • Download T&Cs (ebooks, articles, images, music, software, videos and course materials).
  • T&Cs of business with consumer aspects (cleaning, gardening, photography, tutoring, tiling, plumbing, plastering, painting, electrical services, carpet fitting and handyman services). These documents now have a combined distance/off-premises contracting section, and the doorstep selling add-on is no longer available.

If you purchased any of these templates in the last 12 months, you are entitled to a copy of the updated version. Just email me with the relevant order number and template name, and I will send over the template.