Online Sales: European Parliament Approves New Rules

Author:Mr John O'Connor and Yvonne Cunnane
Profession:Matheson Ormsby Prentice

On 23 June 2011, following over two years of negotiation, the European Parliament approved the introduction of a proposed Consumer Rights Directive which will set out new European-wide rules in relation to off-premises and distance contracts, such as online contracts. The Consumer Rights Directive will go to the Council of Ministers for approval (which is expected to happen before the end of this year) and Member States will then have a maximum of two years to implement the new rules. In a press release issued by the Parliament, it states that they "reached a well-balanced deal which meets both calls from consumers and business interests". The impetus for change arose from a number of factors including the increase in online sales (with 40% of EU consumers buying goods and services online in 2010) and the legislative differences among Member States which negatively impacted cross-border sales. The Parliament claims that the new rules will strengthen protection for online shoppers whilst cutting red tape for small and medium sized businesses. The Parliament also issued a background document setting out the main changes to be introduced by the Consumer Rights Directive including:

14 day cooling-off period (increased from...

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