22 AUGUST 2001

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Distance-selling regulations issued

The Minister responsible for Consumer Affairs, after consulting the Consumer Affairs Council in virtue of his powers under the Consumer Affairs Act, recently enacted the Distance Selling Regulations which provide a framework to protect consumers who buy goods or services by means of distance communication.

An important aspect dealt with under these regulations relates to the information that must be provided in good time before the conclusion of the distance contract. The trader must in a clear and comprehensive manner provide the consumer with certain information including:

• The full name of the trader and his address of place of trade;
• A description of the main characteristics of the goods/services quoting their price and any taxes or charges that may be due;
• Delivery costs where appropriate
• The right of the consumer to cancel the contract according to these regulations; and
• The arrangements for payment, delivery or performance;
Under these Regulations, the consumer may, within 15 days, cancel the contract without incurring any penalty and without giving any reason for doing so. If the consumer exercises such a right the trader is bound to reimburse any sums paid by the consumer. Such reimbursement must be made within 30 days. The only charge that the consumer may be required to incur is the direct cost of returning the goods.
Other matters dealt with under these regulations include:
• The obligation of the trader to effect delivery with 30 days from when the order is made (unless the parties have agreed otherwise);
• Restrictions on the use of certain means of distance communication to solicit custom such as fax machines;
• The nullity of any distance contracts made with minors or interdicted or incapacitated persons;
• The rights of a consumer who receives unsolicited goods or services.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt