Commercial e-Brief – Consumer Rights Directive, Distance Selling

Wednesday 12th March 2014

Online retailers need to prepare for key changes to the distance selling rules over the coming months.

The Consumer Rights Directive will come into force in the UK on 13 June 2014, and will affect existing practices in relation to distance selling and the consumer’s right to cancel.

Key changes include the extension of the statutory cooling off period for distance sales, from seven working days to 14 calendar days, and the introduction of a 12 month cancellation period if the retailer fails to provide relevant information. This extends the current period of three months.

Retailers will have to give refunds within 14 days of receiving the goods, including the cost of delivery.  Retailers should also bear in mind that the collection or return costs for cancelled orders may not be charged to the consumer, unless the consumer has been made aware when ordering that they will be responsible for returning the goods.

Retailers will therefore need to ensure that their terms and conditions are up to date, and that their delivery and returns processes reflect the new rules.

Whilst many retailers will offer a returns policy which is more favourable than the legally required period, a failure to provide requisite information on the right to cancel could have a significantly costly impact.  Retailers who are obliged to accept order cancellations, and therefore issue refunds, for 12 months after the order was placed could be significantly out of pocket.

For more information, including for further details of how other areas of the Consumer Rights Directive might affect your business, please contact: Andy Brian, Partner, on 0113 227 0354 or