Consumer Contract Regulations – Essential Information for Traders
In our previous article, we looked at the the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 (the “CCR”) and the situations in which they might apply. Where the CCR apply it is vital that you, as a small business or sole-trader, fully comply with your obligations – as failing to do so can result in either massive financial sanctions, or potential criminal charges.
In this second installation of our three-part blog series, we will assist small businesses and sole-traders by setting out in brief the requirements of the CCR, and the steps that you need to take right now to ensure that you are compliant.
What do I need to know as a Trader?
Firstly, you need to know that there are three types of consumer contracts:
- Distance Contracts – Contracts concluded without the trader and consumer being together in the same place by some means of distance communication (email, telephone, video call, etc);
- Off-Premises Contracts – Contracts made by face-to-face communication with the trader and consumer at any place away from the trader’s office or premises. This could include a contract made in a consumer’s front room, out on the street, or over dinner. Importantly this even includes situations where an offer is concluded by phone/email where immediately prior the trader and consumer had been in the same place away from the Trader’s premises (such as emailing through a quotation etc.);
- On-Premises Contracts – Contracts which are made face-to-face between the trader and consumer at the trader’s office or premises.
Requirements for an On-Premises Contract
Where you as a trader enter into an On-Premises Contract, the regulations are thankfully quite light.
Specifically, you MUST give or make available to the consumer, in a clear and comprehensible manner, the information set out in Schedule 1 to the CCR, which includes (amongst other things) details of the goods/services, your identity, the total price, additional charges, your complaints policy, and the contract duration.
Requirements for an Off-Premises Contract
Where you as a trader enter into an Off-Premises Contract, the situation changes markedly and the regulations are far more significant.
Firstly, you must give to the consumer the information set out in Schedule 2 to the CCR, alongside the right to cancellation form as set out in Schedule 3B to the CCR. The list of information is more in-depth than with on-premises information, and in particular deals with cancellation rights which are far more important for off-premises contracts.
Importantly, the information required (including the cancellation form), MUST be given to the consumer on paper and in writing, unless the consumer has agreed to receive it by ‘another durable medium’ (such as email). Verbal confirmation does not count, and is not sufficient.
Once the contract has been entered into, you MUST give the consumer a copy of any signed contract or confirmation. Again, this MUST be in writing.
Requirements for Distance Contracts
The requirements for distance contracts are similar to off-premises contracts and, for the purposes of this article are not dealt with in detail other than to confirm that there is no requirement for information to be provided in writing or via a durable medium.
How can we help?
If you are a trader and are facing a claim for breaching the CCR, or simply want to check your current procedures to make sure you are compliant, our specialist team of Commercial Dispute Resolution Solicitors have substantial experience of dealing with this area. To speak to a member of the team and discuss your options and potential liabilities, call 01202 525333 or send an email.
In our next article, we will be looking in detail at the shocking potential consequences which you could fall foul of if you fail to comply with your obligations as a trader under the CCR.