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Warning as consumer contracts change

Businesses should review their terms and conditions of sale to make sure they are following new rules on consumer contracts or face criminal convictions or fines, an expert is warning.

Claire Hynes, a solicitor in the Corporate team at Lancashire law firm Napthens, warns that from June 13 the law on both distance selling and doorstep selling in relation to consumers will be replaced by new rules under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.

The rules exist to protect consumer rights when buying products – either over the phone, online, by post /catalogues, or when the trader visits the consumer’s home.

The new regulations bring in a number of changes that relevant businesses should be aware of.

Claire explained: “If you are currently a trader selling goods or services to a consumer under the distance selling or doorstep selling regulations, then from June 13 new provisions will apply.

“These include the extension of the cancellation period to 14 calendar days, giving consumers more time to change their minds; and the extension of the pre-contract information which must be given to a consumer.

“Traders must make any refund within 14 days of cancellation of a service contracts/receipt of goods.

“It is crucial that businesses review their existing terms and conditions of sale to ensure that the new requirements are complied with, particularly the cancellation periods, pre-contract information requirements and returns policy.

“The risk for businesses in not being compliant is that contracts may be unenforceable and traders could face criminal conviction and/or a fine, so it is important to seek the correct legal advice.”