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Wednesday, 21 August, 2002, 07:56 GMT 08:56 UK
Online shoppers bag new law
Online shopper graphic
Online shoppers will receive greater protection through the new law
Online shoppers are to be able to buy with greater security, thanks to regulations coming into effect on Wednesday.

The E-Commerce Directive sets strict rules for UK businesses which advertise or sell goods either via a website, mobile phone or through email.

These firms will now have to offer key features on their sites such as contact information, a swift acknowledgement of orders, and the chance for customers to amend an order.

While the laws are seen as good news for consumers, there are suggestions that some even reliable companies are unprepared for the change and risk being caught out.

Boosting e-commerce safely

The Department of Trade and Industry says the law's aim is to ensure that businesses gain "the full benefits of e-commerce by boosting consumer confidence".

At the same time, it seeks to give "providers of information society services legal certainty, without excessive red tape".

However, some lawyers have suggested many companies need to make substantial changes to ensure compliance

"Businesses with an online presence or who provide any form of online service have not been sufficiently briefed," said Andrew Rigby, head of e-commerce at lawyers Addleshaw Booth & Co.

"[They] will urgently need to reconsider how they operate their web sites to ensure they are compliant."

If a company fails to meet the key criteria, the sale will not be valid and the customer cannot be forced to pay.

However, the DTI has responded by saying it is happy to advise companies struggling with the new law.

"If businesses have concerns or questions about what the new regulations mean to them, we are happy to provide advice through our website", the DTI said.

See also:

10 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
08 Jul 02 | Science/Nature
07 May 02 | Business
14 Mar 02 | Science/Nature
27 Feb 02 | Science/Nature
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