Business Law & Compliance

Website terms and conditions need to be reviewed, warns law firm

3 min read

01 August 2014

The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) regulations 2013, which came into force 13 June 2014, applies to anyone selling goods, services or digital content to consumers online.

Law firm Adams & Remers is now warning businesses that website terms and conditions and related sales processes need to be reviewed immediately. One of their solicitors, Aisha Dickson, explains that “the regulations are part of the extensive EU reforms which are being made to consumer law. They introduce wide-ranging changes including alterations to the information which needs to be communicated to a consumer, amendments to delivery times, ‘cooling-of’ periods and refunds procedures, as well as setting out new rules for ‘digital content.’”

Consumers now need to be given a list of pre-contract information that should include details about the business, the goods, prices and other charges, the contract terms and the right of cancellation. This information should be provided in a ‘clear and comprehensible manner’ before the customer makes any commitments. Additionally, confirmation should then be sent via a ‘durable medium’ such as email, text message, or the consumer’s personal account.

“The customer’s consent must be obtained before taking any additional charges, such as for extended warranties or express delivery, and pre-ticked boxes are no longer allowed,” Dickson continued. “Premium telephone lines have also been banned by the regulations and those offering a phone line for post-contract enquiries must ensure that customers are not charged more than the basic rate.

“Unless it is agreed otherwise, goods must be delivered without undue delay and within at least 30 days. Consumers now have 14 calendar days to return unwanted goods from the date of cancellation and a refund for the total price paid, including any delivery charges the customer has incurred, must then be processed within 14 days of cancellation or the receipt of goods. It must be made clear in the pre-contract information if customers are required to pay for the return of goods.”

But businesses need to be aware that the regulations now also include “data which is produced and supplied in a digital form, not on a tangible medium” (e.g. not on a CD or DVD). 

Dickson concludes: “Making updates to a website and adjusting procedures is not complicated and should be carried out immediately. It will be harder to deal with the fall out of non-compliance later down the line.”