The purpose of the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 is to encourage better use of e-commerce and boost consumer confidence by clarifying the rights and obligations of businesses and consumers. If you run a business online or through email orders, you must ensure you comply with these regulations.
Please note that the following is for information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.
Who do these regulations apply to?
The EC Directive applies to anyone who:
- advertises goods or services online
- sells goods or services to businesses or consumers online
- transmits or stores electronic content or provides access to a communication network
Why should I comply with these regulations?
The EC Directive exists not only to protect the end user but to protect you, the service provider.
If you fulfil the criteria set out in the EC Directive regulations you will be protecting yourself against end users of your website:
- cancelling an order with you
- seeking a court order against you
- suing you for breach of statutory duty
In the most extreme case you may be issued with a Stop Now Enforcement Order if your failure to comply harms the collective interest of consumers. If you do not comply with this order you may be held in contempt of court and may face a fine or imprisonment.
What do I need to do?
Provide the following information clearly, directly and permanently on your website.
- the full contact details of your business, including postal address, email address and telephone number
- the details of any trade organisations to which you belong, including registration number and link to an online register if available
- the details of any authorisation scheme relevant to your online business
- any professional qualifications, the awarding body and a link to any professional rules to which you work by
- your VAT number, if applicable
- clear indications of prices, including any delivery or tax charges
If you allow customers to place orders online you must notify them of the following prior to the order being placed:
- a description of the different technical steps required to conclude a contract online
- whether the contract will be filed by your business and whether it can be accessed
- the technical means to enable end users to correct any inputting errors they make
- the languages offered in which to conclude the contract
- the terms and conditions of the contract
- codes of conduct to which the business subscribes
Once the order has been placed you must immediately acknowledge receipt of the order by email.
If you send electronic communications, such as email newsletters:
- any emails designed to promote your goods, services or image must be clearly identified as such
- the person/business on whose behalf they are sent must be clearly identified
- any promotional offers you advertise e.g. any discounts, premium gifts, competitions or games must be clearly identified
- any qualifying conditions regarding such offers must be clearly explained
- any unsolicited emails you send must be clearly identified as such
The full text of the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002 is available here.