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From 1 January 2021, the Electronic Commerce Directive (ECD) ceased to apply to the UK. 

The ECD laid out how EEA online service providers (retailers, telecoms, cloud service providers and any businesses that advertise goods and services online) operate in any EEA country, while only having to follow the laws and regulations of the EEA country in which they are established. 

The purpose of the ECD was to encourage the growth of eCommerce across the EU/EEA and boost consumer confidence by clarifying the rights and obligations of consumers and businesses.

In October 2020, the UK government published guidance entitled The eCommerce Directive after the transition period. It set out how the ECD now operates in relation to UK-established eCommerce businesses.  
If you are an eCommerce business operating, i.e. providing goods and services or advertising to EU/EEA consumers, you will need to take the following actions:
  1. Check whether your eCommerce business falls within the scope of the Directive.
  2. If you are in scope, check the legal requirements in the EEA countries in which you operate. In most cases, the compliance requirements will be available on the individual country’s Supervising Authority’s website, for example the CNIL for France and the Dutch DPA. These legal obligations may relate to rules on online information, advertising, shopping, and contracting. You may also become subject to "prior authorisation" schemes, such as licensing requirements, in certain EEA countries.
  3. Make sure you have processes in place to monitor ongoing compliance if requirements in the EEA countries in which you operate change. This could include signing up to newsletters from particular EEA States’ Supervising Authorities or working with a Solicitor to ensure you are advised on regulatory changes.

You can get legal assistance from LawBite 

Reading this, you may think the above is difficult to implement for an SME, especially if you operate in a majority of the 27 Member States. However, our Commercial Solicitors can take the problem of compliance off your shoulders. We can quickly inform you of what rules apply in the particular Member State you plan to operate in and provide a set of action points you need to take to meet compliance. Furthermore, we will make sure that any legislative changes in that Member State come to your attention.

To find out how we can help you expand your eCommerce business into the EU/EEA whilst meeting your compliance obligations, contact us today. Book a free 15-minute consultation with one of our expert lawyers.

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In closing

Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice on which you should rely. The article is provided for general information purposes only. Professional legal advice should always be sought before taking any action relating to or relying on the content of this article. Our Platform Terms of Use apply to this article.

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