Selling online – proposed new EU consumer remedies

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Selling online – proposed new EU consumer remedies

10 Feb 2016

Following the recent implementation of the UK Consumer Rights Act 2015 in October (please see our update here), the United Kingdom surged ahead of other countries in the EU by setting out the rights that consumers have when receiving faulty digital content or goods after making a purchase online.

However, now the European Commission is seeking to streamline the approach taken to digital content across the European Union, which means more disruption for UK based companies that sell online.

Why are new EU consumer remedies being proposed?

Currently, rules in the EU require businesses to provide consumers with enough information when they purchase digital content (which covers a wide range of things from downloaded films, MP’s and games, to the technology included in high-tech fridges and other white goods) or goods online, to ensure they’re clear on their rights.

However, those rules do not deal with consumer rights in relation to faulty digital content or goods, setting UK businesses that have recently implemented the Consumer Rights Act apart from Europe as a whole. As this is now finally being addressed at a European Union level, unfortunately they may end up having to administer even more changes.

What will the new laws involve?

The new proposal will seek to provide a common approach across the European Union and give consumers the remedies needed for defective digital content and goods purchased online, such as a right to repair or a refund (which is the position under the Consumer Rights Act and is already in effect in England).

In addition, it will look to ensure that there will be no EU-wide short term right for a consumer to reject faulty goods. Which means that – as the Consumer Rights Act has just introduced a thirty-day short-term right to reject – businesses who have recently adopted new processes in order to comply with these requirements may, frustratingly, find themselves having to change their approach once again.

Finally, there could be a proposal introduced that states if goods are faulty, the consumer will be entitled to ask for a remedy within the first two years from the date of sale without having to prove that any defect existed at the time of delivery. This could potentially impose a hefty burden on businesses selling online.

What should I do now?

If you’re a business that has recently been through a process of updating your terms and conditions of supply to comply with the Consumer Rights Act, you’d be forgiven for feeling some frustration over these latest suggested reforms.

We will of course aim to keep you updated with the new EU position as it progresses, but if you have any queries in the meantime on ensuring you are compliant with consumer protection legislation, please contact us on 0161 832 3434.

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