New Business at the Bucks County Show: Deal or No Deal?

August 2016

At Parrott & Coales we are all gearing up and getting ready for the Bucks County Show on 1st September.

For those hoping to do business at the event, Robert Syms, the new Head of our Dispute Resolution and Employment Team, considers some of the issues surrounding contracts for goods and services at County Shows or Trade Fairs.

Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 (Off Premises Contracts)

When entering into a Consumer Contract for the supply of goods or services, away from your usual premises (for example at a Trade Show or a Fair) the rules in relation to “off premises” contracts, contained within the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 (“the Regulations”), need to be considered.

When do the Regulations apply?

The Regulations apply when you are acting in the course of business (a “Trader”) and the other contracting party is a consumer.  The Regulations refer to a particular type of contract concluded away from the Trader’s “Business Premises”.  As “Business Premises” can include mobile facilities, if you usually trade from (for example) a market stall then the Regulations will not apply.  Sales to consumers in their homes are likely to involve the Regulations unless it is for the supply of consumables by regular roundsmen, the classic example being the door step milk delivery.

What do you need to do?

When a contract is concluded “off premises” the Regulations require you to provide your customer with notice of their right to cancel the contract (although certain types of contract are exempt from cancellation rights).  Provided you do so, your customer will then have 14 days from the date when the contract was formed or the delivery of any goods to cancel the contract with you (the “Initial Cancellation Period”).  Failing to provide details of the cancellation period at the start means that the Initial Cancellation Period will then be 14 days from the point in time when you do later provide that notice.  Failing to provide the notice at all means that the initial cancellation period could be up to 12 months from the time when the contract was formed.  If you are a Trader conducting business away from your usual premises, it is therefore critical to ensure that notice of cancellation rights, compliant with the Regulations is given at the outset.

Schedule 2 of the Regulations contains a series of other requirements.

Cancellation rights

If your customer cancels a contract for the supply of goods, generally the customer will be responsible for returning those goods to you.  Once returned, the customer will be entitled to a refund.  A customer cancelling a contract for services will be entitled to reimbursement of sums already paid and you will lose the opportunity to charge for services already rendered – unless before the contract started you obtained your customer’s agreement for services to commence within the cancellation period.  Ensuring this is done at the outset will help to mitigate the risk of cancellation.

The Regulations also contain rules about how soon goods sold by way of off premises contracts should be delivered, when risk in the goods passes, the consumer responsibility for returning goods if cancellation rights are exercised and your entitlement to deduct monies from refunds if goods show sign of use etc.

What does this mean?

  • The Regulations can apply to sales to consumers at their home or place of work, as well as trade shows or fairs
  • When making “off premises” sales, consumers need to be provided with information that is clear, legible and compliant with the Regulations
  • Failing to comply with the Regulations will be a breach of the Consumer Rights Act 2015
  • Some breaches of the Regulations are a criminal offence
  • Ensure your salesforce are up to date with the Regulations and the implications of non-compliance

If the implications of the Regulations are of concern then please do contact us for further advice.

 

Robert Syms and the rest of the Parrott & Coales Team look forward to seeing you at the Bucks County Show on 1st September.

 

  T:  01296 318510

  E:  robert.syms@pandcllp.co.uk