About this series of articles
This article is the fourth in a series about the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, often abbreviated to CC (ICAC). This law came into effect from 13 June 2014, replacing older 'Doorstep selling' law and 'Distance selling' regulations.
The series explains the law, and how to apply it to your business so that you remain compliant.
Unfortunately, like most European law, the Regulations are anything but clear and practical. We hope that our information articles are thorough and easy to digest and make understanding the implications for your business easier.
If your business already compliant with distance selling rules, the changes represent evolution rather than a revolution. However, there are some important changes.
The Regulations have strengthened a consumer’s rights to cancel and imposed new burdens on traders. This article discusses those rights.
Cancellation rights only strengthen for certain categories of contracts
The cancellation rights apply only if you make what the Regulations call distance contacts or off-premises contracts.
For an explanation of these, see how to identify whether a contract is made on-premises, off-premises or at distance.
If you sell on-premises - from a shop, a showroom, or your own office - the cancellation provisions do not apply to you. Instead you can use your own contract terms.
There are also certain products and services that are exempt, including medicines, newspapers and emergency services. You may want to read further about exemptions.
Default right to a cancellation period of 14 days
For those contracts that are under the Regulations, your customer or client can give notice of cancellation up to 14 days after the contract is made, and may cancel without having to give a reason.
From a practical perspective, there may be an advantage to your business in specifying in your terms and conditions when exactly the contract is made (or rather, when you accept the contract), and therefore when the cancellation period starts.
The exception is for physical goods, where the cancellation period starts on the day when the good are received.
You provide a service. The cancellation period is 14 days from the day on which the contract was made (not when the service was started).
You supply digital content by email attachment or download. The cancellation period is 14 days from the day on which the contract was made (not when the digital goods were downloaded or delivered).
Your customer gives you a single order for several items which may or may not be connected together. They are delivered at different times or on different days. The cancellation period is 14 days from the day on which the last of the goods is received.
You sell goods or both goods and services. The cancellation period is 14 days from the day on which the goods are received by the buyer.
Your customer gives you one or more orders for goods or a service which by their nature will be delivered at different times. The cancellation period is 14 days from the day on which the last of the lots or pieces of goods is received.
Your sales contract is for regular delivery of goods during a period of longer than one day. The cancellation period is 14 days from the day on which the first of the goods is received.
When the cancellation period can be extended
The Regulations require that you provide specific information before the contract is made. If you fail to do so, the cancellation period is extended until you do. This can continue for up to one year from the day after the normal cancellation period would have ended.
The form of notice and how it will be used by customer is also precisely specified in the Regulations.
We recommend that you read about giving notice of cancellation next. This tells you more about the form of notice that a customer must give, and your requirement to provide a model one.
Unless you are exempt from the Regulations or are already compliant, you are likely to need to update your customer contract templates. These are likely to include your website T&C if you sell online and your offline customer contract if you sell offline.
If you have any questions about the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013, or would like help updating your contracts to comply, please ask us. We’d be delighted to help.