The UK position vis a vis the EU’s plans for a Single Digital Market is one of great enthusiasm. BIS believes that the UK is uniquely positioned to take advantage of expanding cross-border sales. UK consumers already shop on-line far more than consumers in other countries, and many are already accessing services such as banking on-line.. The UK considers that the UK services sector, on which our economy is largely dependent, is well-placed to expand into Europe if remaining barriers to cross-border trade can be removed.
It will therefore be interesting to see how the UK position evolves on the proposals for fully harmonised legislation on internet sales of digital content and tangible goods. The UK was one of the six Members States that would not agree to harmonise remedies for the Consumer Rights Directive. However, it is generally accepted that it would not be sensible to have different remedies for on-line sales than for face to face sales. So if the new Directives become law, with a two year time limit on claims of non-conformity, it is inevitable that there will be proposals to align the law for face to face sales.
The UK’s Consumer Rights Act 2015 does include digital content but it does not go as far as the proposed Directive will in offering consumers remedies for faulty content.
The UK has also embarked on a Call for Evidence in relation to terms and conditions in consumer contracts. These were addressed under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, but there have been claims that this does not go far enough. The Government is now asking for ideas on how to simplify terms and conditions to make them easier to understand and also on giving enforcement bodies powers to impose fines without going to court.