E-commerce and consumer rights: exercising the right of withdrawal

Under plans to implement the EU’s directive on consumer rights, online businesses will once again have to modify the information given to consumers about exercising the right of withdrawal from a contract.

onlineshop, widerruf, widerrufsbelehrung

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A draft law published by the German government (BT-Drucksache 17/12637) foresees various changes to the e-commerce landscape in Germany.

The plan includes the abolition of the €40 rule, which stipulates that in transactions over €40 consumers must be able to return products free of charge, and the modification of the information online businesses are required to provide to consumers concerning the exercise of the right of withdrawal.

Consumer rights

Under the proposed law on consumer rights, German legislation will be brought into line with the EU’s consumer rights directive.

A deadline of 14 days for exercising the right of withdrawal will be introduced and traders will be permitted to provide consumers with information in digital format, as opposed to text form, provided it accessible on a durable medium.

Traders will also be required to inform consumers of the costs involved for returning goods if they choose to exercise their right of withdrawal from a contract.

The German government has published model instructions for online businesses to use as a guide when providing information to consumers on the exercise of the right of withdrawal. This can be found on the German government’s website (BT-Drucksache 17/12637)

The proposals are due to come into force in June 2014.

Christian Solmecke is a partner at the law firm WILDE BEUGER SOLMECKE. He is the author of numerous legal publications in the area of internet and IT law. He is also an associate lecturer for social media law at the Cologne University of Applied Sciences.

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