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E-commerce between businesses

If you sell goods or provide services to other businesses online, you're exempt from the Consumer Contracts Regulations, however, you'll still have to comply with the E-commerce Regulations, which apply to sales made electronically.
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B2B is selling business to business - one business sells or provides products, services or information (ie e-commerce) to other businesses or companies, rather than to consumers. B2C on the other hand, or business to consumer, is where businesses sell products or provide services to consumers.

The Consumer Contracts Regulations only apply to B2C contracts. Being exempt means that if you sell to businesses, then your returns and cancellation policy is governed by your contract with that customer, ie your own Terms and conditions. For more information on this, read Supply of services B2C or Ask a lawyer.

If you are selling online to businesses, then you must comply with the Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002. These regulations ensure that electronic contracts are legally binding and that customers are provided with certain information regarding the business they're dealing with as well as that business' adopted codes of conduct.

Information requirements

Businesses covered by the Regulations have to share a certain amount of information with their customers, including a company name, registration details and VAT number if applicable.

Pricing requirements

The Regulations say that any prices stipulated on a website should clearly state whether or not they include hidden charges such as VAT and delivery. In short, prices should be clear and unambiguous.

Contract requirements

As for the forming of electronic contracts, the Regulations state that:

  • Electronic contracts should be able to be completed online.
  • The customer has the right and must have the ability to revise any mistakes contained in their order prior to making a purchase (or concluding the contract).
  • Once the order is placed, confirmation of the order and all relevant information, including terms and conditions, delivery times and prices should be sent to the customer without undue delay.

Online businesses are also obliged to provide customers with all of the steps involved in the ordering process, together with information relating to their contract (eg whether or not the business will file the electronic contract and whether it is readily accessible). Online businesses must inform customers of any codes of conduct they adhere to, as well as advice on how customers can consult them.

For more information, read Online business regulations and Contracts for customers.

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