A new EU Regulation on consumer rights came into effect on 13 June 2014. The new Regulation updates the existing consumer law spanning several key areas of importance for both consumers and traders. Failure to adhere to the new rules may result in contracts being deemed non-enforceable, potential fines and/or in extreme cases imprisonment.

Key changes include:

  • Traders must get the consumer's express prior consent before taking any additional or default payments (for example, pre-ticked boxes will not be permitted).
  • Traders must not force the consumer to use a premium rate telephone line to query an existing contract.
  • Information requirements are imposed on traders for on-premises, off-premises and distance contracts.
  • Consumers’ unilateral right to cancel off-premises and distance contracts are extended from 7 days to 14 days. Failure to notify consumers of this right will result in a 12 month extension to the cancellation right.
  • A consumer must return goods within 14 calendar days of cancelling a sales contract. Traders may withhold a refund until the goods are returned and may deduct an amount for any diminished value of the goods.
  • Traders must, unless the consumer agrees otherwise, deliver any goods purchased within 30 calendar days.

These changes will apply to any contract concluded after 13 June 2014 and all affected traders are obliged to update their practices accordingly. Given the broad application of the Regulation, it is likely to affect the vast majority of on-line traders in some way and punishment for non-compliance can be severe.