New regulations for doorstep and distance sales

The government has published new regulations aimed at consolidating the law on distance and doorstep selling, providing further protection for consumers and making it easier for them to know their rights. The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 came into force on 13 June 2014. The regulations have been introduced to implement an EU directive on consumer rights and will replace the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc Regulations 2008 and the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000. This legislation will be revoked for contracts made on or after 13 June 2014. Separate legislation relating to whether goods are fit for purpose or of satisfactory quality will not be affected.

This change will be of particular importance to online retailers and traders. The new regulations will cover any contracts for the sale of goods and services made online or otherwise at a distance (such as over the phone or by email). They have also introduced a new specific category for the sale of digital content. The changes introduced by the regulations, while mainly aimed at protecting consumers, do provide some increased protection for traders. The main changes are detailed below.

Perhaps the most important change made by the regulations is to extend the cooling-off period from seven working days to 14 days after the contract for services is entered into or from the date the goods are received by the consumer. Any items under a cancelled order must be returned within 14 days of receipt by the consumer. It is essential that traders ensure that their current terms and conditions, cancellation terms and other policies comply with this as if the consumer is not clearly informed there could be severe implications…

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