Change in distance and doorstep selling regulations – are you ready?

Further to our briefing note in January (found here: the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013 will be coming into force on 13th June 2014.  The Regulations will replace the current provisions set out in the Distance Selling and Doorstep Selling Regulations.

The new Regulations will apply to all “relevant” contracts which are made on or after 13th June 2014.  Contracts made prior to this date will still be governed by the current legislation.

In view of the changes to the law, we would suggest that you review your contractual documents and, if required, revise them in order to meet the obligations imposed by the new legislation.  In the worst case scenario, if your contracts do not comply with the new law, they may be invalid and unenforceable.

There are three types of contract which are affected by the new legislation:

Distance Contracts:
Contracts which are concluded under an organised sales or service-provision scheme without the physical presence of the trader and consumer and where a means of distance communication is used exclusively.

Off Premises Contracts:               
Contracts which are concluded somewhere other than the premises of the trader, or on an excursion organised for the purpose of selling goods to the consumer, or by another means following personal and individual contact with the consumer away from the trader’s premises.

On Premises Contracts:               
Contracts between a trader and consumer which do not fall into either category above. We have summarised below the main changes in the new legislation.

Trader must give pre-contract information to the consumer
The following information must be given (please note this list is not exhaustive):

  • Main characteristics of the goods or services
  • Identity of the trader
  • Total price of the goods or services
  • Additional delivery (or other) charges
  • Notification to the consumer of their right to cancel
  • Duration of the contract
  • Details or any complaints/redress procedure

Note that where a contract is concluded through electronic means, the information must be given clearly and prominently prior to the consumer placing their order.

Consumer’s consent for additional payments
Traders must obtain express consent for any additional payments, which must be obtained before the consumer becomes bound by the terms of the contract.

Delivery of goods
Unless agreement is reached otherwise, goods must be delivered to the consumer within 30 calendar days.

The cancellation period has been increased from 7 days to 14 days.  If this regulation is breached the cancellation period will automatically be extended to 1 year.

After-sales helpline
A trader cannot charge a customer more than a basic rate for any telephone line used by a consumer about an existing contract.

If you would like any further information or advice in connection with the changes and what they mean for you and your organisation, please contact a member of our commercial team.