Distance Selling Regulations

Distance selling means selling and buying by phone, mail order, via the Internet or digital TV. Such transactions are covered generally by normal buying and selling legislation, but they are also covered by special Distance Selling Regulations.

Distance Selling Regulations give protection to consumers who shop by phone, mail order, via the Internet or digital TV: The protection includes:

• The right to receive clear information about goods and services before deciding to buy;
• Confirmation of this information in writing;
• A cooling off period of seven working days in which the consumer can withdraw from the contract;
• Protection from credit card fraud.

Guide for Businesses on Distance Selling Regulations

The Department and the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) issued revised guidance for businesses on the Distance Selling Regulations in September 2006. In a press notice (http://www.oft.gov.uk/news/press/2006/133-06).  The then Minister Ian McCartney said: 'Consumers deserve protection whether they are buying from their local shop or online. But businesses need to have a clear idea of where the law stands. That's why this... guidance will support businesses in their efforts to operate distance sales and give consumers the protection they deserve.'

E-commerce Regulations put the EC Directive on E-commerce into UK law. Amongst other things the Directive requires Member States to ensure that contracts can be concluded electronically.

The Distance Marketing of Financial Services Directive establishes a set of EU-wide rules on the information that must be supplied to consumers when financial services are sold at a distance. The Financial Services (Distance Marketing) Regulations 2004 which implement the Directive came into force in October 2004. HM Treasury leads on financial services issues in Whitehall.

Provisions of Private International Law (PIL) are also relevant to e-commerce in relation to cross border transactions and disputes. The Department for Constitutional Affairs leads on PIL issues in Whitehall.