B2C sales over the internet: consumer rights and business obligations

Noel Tarleton, Solicitor, Office of Fair Trading, UK

In addition to general consumer protection, disability discrimination and privacy laws, UK businesses selling to consumers over the internet need to comply with the Distance Selling Regulations ('DSRs'), E-Commerce Regulations (ECRs) and, from April 2008, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations ('CPRs'). The DSRs grant cancellation rights in respect of many products. The DSRs and ECRs together impose information and technical requirements. In its 2007 internet shopping report, the OFT found many examples of noncompliance. Businesses need to be clear about their obligations regarding identity and contact information, pricing, unfair terms, cancellations and refunds. The CPRs will introduce a general duty not to trade unfairly with consumers. The Regulations will apply to all retail channels. Their scope is wide ranging - applying to B2C commercial practices before during and after a commercial transaction in relation to goods or services.

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