DTI gets tough with online traders

Link: New ecommerce rules hamper UK ebusiness

Companies trading over the internet have until 23 October to familiarise themselves with new laws passed at the end of last month under the Electronic Commerce Regulations 2002.

After that date consumer bodies such as the Trading Standards Department will have the power to obtain a ‘Stop Now Order’ from a court, which will force businesses found to be infringing the new laws to cease trading immediately.

‘If you don’t comply with the order you’re going to be treated as if you’re in contempt of court and will be treated with a fine or imprisonment,’ said DTI spokeswoman Ayesha Bharmal.

Online traders will have little choice other than to comply with the strict rules, which include:

  • The electronic acknowledgement of the receipt of an order
  • The creation of a simple process allowing customers to correct errors
  • A clear explanation of the technical steps needed to conclude a contract
  • Confirmation that a contract will be filed and details of how it can be accessed.

But many businesses are still unaware of the rules, according to Andrew Rigby, head of technology and e-commerce at legal firm Addleshaw Booth and Co.

‘Businesses with an online presence, or which provide any form of online service, have not been sufficiently briefed and will urgently need to reconsider how they operate their websites,’ he said.

‘For those businesses which contract with consumers online, whole back-office processes will need to change. Indeed, the whole package of measures could cost UK businesses a lot of additional expense.’

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