The European Union (Consumer Information, Cancellation and other Rights) Regulations 2013 (SI No. 484 of 2013) (the Regulations) which were published in 2013, will come into operation this Friday 13 June 2014 and apply to contracts concluded after that date.
These Regulations give effect to Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights.
Subject to a number of specified exclusions, the Regulations apply to contracts between a trader and a consumer. Some of the provisions of the Regulations apply only to on-premises contracts, some only to off-premises contracts, some only to distance contracts and some only to sales contracts. Definitions of these different types of contract are included in the Regulations.
The Regulations specify the substance and form of the information that traders must provide to consumers before the consumer is bound by a contract. In the case of distance and off-premises contracts, the trader must also provide the consumer with a copy or confirmation of the contract within a reasonable time of the conclusion of the contract.
Exercise of right to cancel
Subject to a number of specified exclusions, the Regulations give consumers the right to cancel off-premises and distance contracts within fourteen days of the delivery of the goods in the case of sales contracts and fourteen days of the conclusion of the contract in the case of service contracts. The duration of this cancellation period is extended by up to twelve months where the trader fails to inform the consumer of the right to cancel the contract. Other provisions set out the rights and obligations of the parties in the event of a cancellation. The Regulations contain provisions regulating the fees charged by traders in respect of the use of a given means of payment and the cost of calls by consumers to customer helplines, as well as provision governing payments by consumers additional to the remuneration agrees for the trader's main obligation under the contract.
The Regulations amend the provision of the Sale of Goods Act 1893 on the passing of risk, and certain of the Act's rules on delivery in contracts of sale where the buyer deals as a consumer. The Regulations also amend the provisions of the Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980 on the supply of unsolicited goods or services to a consumer.
No waiver of consumer's rights
Any purported waiver by a consumer of a right conferred by these Regulations will be of no effect. Additionally, any term of a contract which directly or indirectly waives or restricts the rights conferred by these Regulations is not binding on the consumer.
The following Regulations will be revoked when the Regulations come into operation; (a) European Communities (Cancellation of Contracts Negotiated Away from Business Premises) Regulations 1989 (SI No. 224 of 1989) and (b) European Communities (Protection of Consumers in Respect of Contracts Made by Means of Distance Communications) Regulations 2001 (SI No. 207 of 2001).
Schedules to the Regulations
- Schedule 1 – this sets out the information to be provided prior to the conclusion of an on-premises contract;
- Schedule 2 – this sets out the information to be provided prior to the conclusion of off-premises contracts and distance contracts;
- Schedule 3- this sets out information concerning the exercise of the right to cancel, including model instructions for cancellation and a model cancellation form.