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Do you sell to consumers online? Time to update your website T&Cs…again

Do you sell to consumers online? Time to update your website T&Cs…again

From 15 February 2016, all businesses that sell to consumers online are required to include the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/ to the European Commission’s ODR Platform on their website and provide a contact email address. This link must be easily accessible and we recommend including it with information regarding your complaints procedures.

This new legal requirement under the Alternative Dispute Resolution for Consumer Disputes (Competent Authorities and Information) Regulations 2015 aims to encourage traders and consumers to use alternative dispute resolution (“ADR”) to address any issues after exhausting the trader’s complaints procedure, rather than pursuing a claim through the courts.

The ODR Platform supplements the ADR requirements that came into force last year and it is essentially an interactive website that the parties can agree to submit disputes for resolution. It will be particularly helpful in cross-border transactions as it features a translation function.

We should stress that traders do not actually have to use the ODR Platform or ADR unless they are required to do so by law, a contractual obligation or a trade association. However, where you are obliged to use an approved ADR provider, you must also make consumers aware of the possibility of resolving disputes through the ODR Platform in your terms and conditions of sale.

The ODR Platform link must also be provided in ‘offers’ sent to consumers by email. The Department for Business Innovation and Skills has not defined what an ‘offer’ entails, but it is likely to have to be more than just financial promotion, for example, a link to enter an agreement.

Trading Standards have the power to enforce the above obligations, so we encourage you to update your terms and conditions as soon as possible if these obligations apply to you.

If you have any queries, or if you would like any assistance with this, please get in touch as we would be more than happy to help.

Please note: the content of this article is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. Specific legal advice should be taken in any specific circumstance.