Law commissions fail to endorse European sales law

The Law Commission and Scottish Law Commission have both failed to endorse proposals for an optional new consumer code to cover distance selling across the European Union.

They have questioned the ability of the current text to strike the right balance, arguing that distance selling needs its own clear rules, designed around automated processes.

The current problem

The UK and Europe are in economic meltdown and desperately need to increase cross border online sales by making business processes less complicated and easier to use. Businesses would welcome a general contractual framework that provides the legal certainty to do business in other countries and reduce the risks of consumer litigation under foreign laws.

Online Business, e-commerce, ecommerce, ecomm, e-comm, e-commerce tips and tricks, law commissionBut what is now potentially damaging to the sales law proposal are policy-makers from a broad spectrum wanting to protect their own vested interests without understanding of the commercial challenges that businesses are facing every day. Both pro and contrary sides of opinion have not yet produced any empirical data to support or challenge the arguments. This means that the current draft text that the European Commission published last month remains untested.

Lobbyists against the sales law are trying to stop the proposals going any further by claiming that the legal basis is wrong. Certainly it is not in the interests of law firms to support any proposal that sets down standard contractual terms because it takes business away from an increasing competitive market. However, if done well, the European Sales Law can support the thousands of small and medium-sized enterprises pushing to open up online markets and take full advantage of the benefits that Internet trading can bring. This is the position of many industry-led associations, including the Federation of Small Businesses.

E RADAR's view is very clear. We need economic growth, more jobs and a much more sustainable economy. Any proposal that allows for enterprise, innovation and competition must be supported with online businesses providing relevant evidence and empirical data to support the business case.

The Ministry of Justice and Department for Business Innovation and Skills are leading UK discussions on the EU proposal.

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