If you operate a distance selling business where customers place orders online or via email (such as an online store or a mail order business), you must comply with the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 (eCommerce Regulations).
In this short guide, we explain what these regulations are and their main points.
What are the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002?
The Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002 establishes the legal rules that online retailers and service providers must comply with when dealing with consumers.
The regulations apply the provision of ‘information society service,’ defined as “any service normally provided for payment at a distance, using electronic equipment for the processing (including digital compression) and storage of data, at the individual request of a recipient of the service.”, this will include any product purchased online.
The Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 main points
Online sellers and service providers must ensure consumers have access to the below information when shopping at your eCommerce store:
- How to place an order, including technical steps involved
- Your terms and conditions relating to the contract of sale (these must be in a format that can be downloaded and saved by the customer)
- Transparent pricing, which includes all taxes and delivery charges
- Your company’s name, email address, and address
- Commercial communications as electronic confirmation of the order and a way to correct any errors
- Your company’s registration number and country of registration
- Details of any authority if your service is subject to an authorisation scheme, such as a licence, certification or registration
If the above information is not made available, the consumer contract may be voidable, i.e. made not legally binding.
Remember that if your organisation sends unsolicited commercial communication electronically, it must comply with the UK GDPR. This could include different media like telephone calls, faxes, emails, text messages and other forms of electronic transmission.
The UK GDPR requires consent to be opt-in, and it is not acceptable to assign consent through the data subject's silence or by supplying “pre-ticked” boxes.
Why should I comply with these regulations?
The EC Directive exists not only to protect the end user but also to protect you, the service provider. If you cover the main point set out in the EC Directive regulations, you will be protecting yourself against end users of your website:
- cancelling an order with you
- seeking a court order against you
- suing you for breach of statutory duty
In the most extreme case, you may be issued a Stop Now Enforcement Order if your failure to comply harms the collective interest of consumers. If you don’t comply with this order, you may be held in contempt of court and face a fine or imprisonment.
Get legal assistance from LawBite
To ensure that your sale and purchase contracts are enforceable and to protect your commercial reputation as a reliable, trustworthy trader, you must comply with The Electronic Commerce Regulations.
LawBite has years of experience helping businesses achieve their commercial ambitions by ensuring they comply with the correct legislation. To find out how we can help your business to be compliant book a free 15 minute consultation or call us on 020 3808 8314.