Top 5 Legal E-Commerce issues to consider before you start trading online

  1. The Law

There is a myriad of legislation to consider when deciding to trade online. In particular, consumers enjoy extensive rights in the EU.

2. B2B versus B2C

Certain implied legislative terms can be excluded dependent on whether you are selling to a consumer or a business. Certain protection rights only apply to consumers.

3. Consumers have extensive rights and businesses have extensive obligations

The Consumer Guarantee Regulations 2003 –  In the case of a lack of conformity, the Regulations entitle a consumer to require the seller to bring the goods into conformity free of charge by repair or replacement, or an appropriate reduction in price, or rescission of the contract with regard to those goods.

The Unfair Consumer Terms Regulations 1995-2014 – These Regulations deal with unfair terms in standard form B2C contracts and protect consumers against an abuse of power by the trader and the unfair exclusion of essential rights. They do not apply to B2B contracts.

The Consumer Protection Acts 2007 and 2014 – The Consumer Protection Act 2007 (as amended by Parts 5 and 6 of the Competition and Consumer Protection Act 2014) deals with unfair B2C commercial practices. It prohibits unfair, misleading and aggressive commercial practices by traders which are directly connected with the promotion, sale or supply of products to consumers.

The Distance Selling Regulations 2013 – The Distance Selling Regulations provide consumers with increased protection when they enter into distance contracts (such as online sales), off-premises (for example doorstep sales) and on-premises contracts with consumers.

The E-Commerce Regulations 2003 – applies to both B2B and B2C and there is some cross-over with the Distance Selling Regulations.

4. Prior information and the Cooling Off Period

Prior Information – as per the Distance Selling Regulations 2013 and the E-Commerce Regulations, certain prior information must be provided before the customer places its order.

Cooling off Period – The Distance Selling Regulations provides that a consumer is entitled to withdraw from a distance contract without reason and seek a full refund within 14 calendar days from the day the consumer receives the goods, or in the case of a service, the day the contract was concluded. The process to make such cancellations must be clearly communicated to the consumer prior to the sale in addition to the contractual terms being made available to the consumer in a “durable” form.

5. The ADR and ODR Regulations 2015 –

The Online Dispute Resolution Platform is provided by the European Commission to help traders resolve disputes with their online customers without going to court. It can be used for any contractual dispute arising from online purchases of goods or services where the trader and consumer are both based in the EU or Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

If you would like to learn more about any of the issues raised in this article or need assistance drafting your company’s online sales contracts, please contact:

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.