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Two months to ensure compliance with the new Consumer Contracts Regulations

The Consumer Contracts Regulation will apply to all "distance contracts" and "off-premises" contracts save for certain specific exemptions (such as gambling, banking or credit services) and so are key to any online business, whether goods, services of content based. 

The new Regulations will apply to all contracts in scope from 13 June 2014 onwards and replace the Distance Selling Regulations2. They complete the implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive3, marking a big step towards the harmonisation of consumer contract law across the EU.

In summary, the new Regulations will implement the following changes: 

Traders must now:

  • Seek the express consent of the consumer before taking any additional payments
  • Make it explicitly clear to a consumer where an action taken online will trigger a payment obligation
  • Deliver purchased goods within 30 calendar days, unless the consumer agrees otherwise
  • Avoid the use of a premium number for consumers to call regarding an existing contract
  • Avoid imposing excessive payment surcharges such as those levied on consumers paying by credit cards (this ban has been in force since April 2013 under the Payment Surcharges Regulations4);
  • Comply with an increased statutory cancellation period of 14 calendar days
  • Provide increased amounts of pre-contract information to the consumer
  • Permit a cancellation period of, broadly, one year in the event that the consumer is not provided with certain pre-contract information
  • Supply a model cancellation form when the consumer has a right to cancel a contract

The new Regulations will also:

  • Introduce a new concept of digital content and new rules for the cancellation of contracts for the supply of downloaded/streamed digital content
  • Require a consumer to return goods within 14 calendar days of cancelling the contract
  • Permit a trader to withhold a refund until returned goods are received (or evidence of their return is provided)
  • Permit a trader to deduct an amount for the diminished value of the goods when refunding payments
  • Provide for an increased amount of ancillary contracts to be automatically terminated on the termination of a distance contract

This article was written by Vanessa Barnett.

For more information contact Vanessa on +44 (0)20 7203 5228 or vanessa.barnett@crsblaw.com