Consumer Rights Directive Consultation

The UK Department for Business has announced a new consultation in order to seek views on the UK's implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive (CRD).

The provisions in the CRD will apply, subject to some limited exceptions, to all contracts for sales of goods and services by traders to consumers, whether the transactions are within the UK or effected across EU borders. The consultation document, and response form should you wish to use it, are below

The Consumer Rights Directive (CRD) was agreed by all Member States of the European Union in October 2011. Despite its name, the CRD does not aim to be all encompassing with regard to consumer rights. Rather, its aim is to simplify and harmonise rules in a limited number of key areas, to encourage growth and raise consumer confidence in buying across borders.

The CRD's focus is on:

  • Consumer contracts, e contracts, consumer rightsensuring transparency of information, in particular with regard to pre-contractual information for distance and off-premises contracts (but also for other goods and services contracts);
  • ensuring there is express consent from the consumer for any additional payments;
  • cancellation rights for distance and off-premises contracts;
  • prohibiting excessive fees for paying the trader the subject of a separate consultation to effect early implementation of this provision;
  • prohibiting excessive phone charges for consumers contacting traders about existing contracts

It also updates legislation to clarify the cancellation rights and obligations of buyers and sellers of digital products.

The harmonisation aims of this Directive mean that the majority of provisions must be implemented as described, and Member States do not have flexibility with regard to their application to sectors within the scope of the Directive. The proposals in this consultation highlight those areas where we do have flexibility, and where we would very much welcome your views. In addition, the consultation seeks your views on whether there are provisions within the CRD which may be ambiguous and where business and consumers would benefit from additional clarity and on the financial impacts, both costs and benefits,that the changes in the CRD will bring.

Key e-business issues to consider

Consumer protection is seen as an important element in the European Commission's Digital Agenda and a way to stimulate online trust and confidence. It's a scandal that up to 60 percent of EU cross border e-commerce transactions are failing for one reason or another, showing that the European Single Market is fragmented and not working. Britain has one of the strongest online economies in Europe and this failure is devastating news for UK investment, growth and jobs.

So how will the proposed consumer rights directive stimulate economic growth? How does it interact with other consumer protection legislation including the Distance Selling Regulations, the Brussels Regulation on jurisdiction, Rome I and Rome II on applicable law and the proposed EU Sales Law? Will the proposal give UK online business a kick start or is it just more red tape we could do without?

Further information