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New rules on doorstep selling

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The law relating to doorstep selling is changing from 1 October 2008. The intention is to simplify the law and will extend the existing law on cooling-off periods and cancellation rights for consumers. Read on to find put how the changes may affect your business. The Cancellation of Contracts Concluded Away from Business Premises Regulations 1987 provide consumers with a seven-day cooling-off period and cancellation rights when they agree to buy goods or services worth more than £35 from a trader during an unsolicited visit to their home. These are now to be replaced with the Cancellation of Contracts Made in a Consumer's Home or Place of Work etc. Regulations 2008. The intention is to simplify the law and will extend the existing law on cooling-off periods and cancellation rights for consumers. The new Regulations will replace the current ones and are aimed at businesses who enter into contracts with the consumer, at their home or their workplace. They will cover ALL consumer contracts concluded away from business premises where the value of the goods or service is more than £35, whether the visit is solicited or unsolicited. This will hopefully safeguard against the actions of unscrupulous businesses who have been seeking to take advantage of loopholes in the current legislation. The consumer will have a seven-calendar-day cooling off period, and this must be clearly highlighted in the contractual terms. In the absence of a contract, these terms must be put in writing. What are the main requirements for businesses? The trader must give the consumer the right to cancel a contract to which the Regulations apply; The trader must give the consumer a cooling-off period of at least seven calendar days in which to exercise the right to cancel the contract starting from the date of receipt of the notice of the right to cancel; The trader must give the consumer written notice of his right to cancel the contract (whether the contract is a written contract or an verbal contract); The ‘Notice of the Right to Cancel' must be given at the same time as the contract is made; Where the contract is wholly or partly in writing, the ‘Notice of the Right to Cancel' must be incorporated in the same document; If incorporated in the written contract (or other document), the notice must be set out in a separate box with the heading ‘Notice of the Right to Cancel', and be as prominent as any other information in the contract or document (apart from the heading and the names of the parties to the contract and any other information inserted in handwriting); The ‘Notice of the Right to Cancel' must contain the information set out in the Regulations and a cancellation form provided as a detachable slip (for use by the consumer if he or she wishes to cancel the contract) What are the consequences for a business which fails to comply with the Regulations? Failure to provide a written ‘Notice of the Right to Cancel' contract; or to provide the information required; or failure to do so in accordance with the Regulations, would result in the trader being unable to enforce the contract against a consumer. Another consequence is a maximum penalty of a level 5 fine (of up to £5,000) imposed on a trader. About the author For a full explanation of these regulations and how they may apply to your business contact Qdos Consulting. QDOS Consulting provides the FPB's 24-hour legal helpline. Click here to find out more about our legal expenses insurance package.

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