Regular readers may remember the long discussions prior to the publication of the Consumer Rights Directive, enacted in the UK mainly via the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013.
The original intention had been for the Directive to cover all consumer contracts but Member States were unable to agree to compromise in two key areas: contract law and remedies.
New proposals published on 9 December envisage two new Directives for on-line sales: one for digital content and the other for tangible goods, both of them fully harmonised – i.e. Member States would all have the same requirements.
The current draft retains the two years to make a claim but removes the 6 month shift of the “burden of proof” so that consumers have up to two years to claim that a product is faulty and it would be up to retailers to prove that it was not.
The European Commission already envisages a future amendment to include face to face sales, as well as a revision to VAT rules to reduce the administrative burden, especially for SMEs.
Other legislation in the pipeline will oblige on-line retailers to make their goods available to consumers in all other Member States. However they will not be under any obligation to offer local delivery so it seems unlikely that many consumers would buy on-line from a foreign website if they had to travel abroad to collect the goods!