EPIC: the changing e-compliance landscape
Author: Laurence Kaye & Sherif Malak
Applies to: Worldwide
The growth in e-commerce and online services such as websites and apps has been accompanied by a significant increase in regulatory requirements faced by businesses operating them, particularly those offering goods and service to consumers.
DESIGNED FOR YOUR ONLINE BUSINESS
Your brand is one of your most precious business assets.
When things go wrong, consumers will often vent their complaints via social media, so brands are increasingly vulnerable to online attack.
As from October 1 2015, consumers will enjoy enhanced rights and remedies when buying goods, services and digital content from online retailers. This is likely to result in increased customer complaints.
EPIC has been designed to help address these challenges.
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Non-compliance can carry considerable risks, especially as these requirements intensify. On the other hand, businesses that get it right will be better prepared to tackle the increasing importance of data and consumer protection online in the near future and benefit from greater consumer confidence.
Launched today, Shoosmiths' legal e-compliance product 'EPIC' provides businesses with a customisable compliance solution for websites and apps of all shapes and sizes, offering a comprehensive and cost-effective way to deal with this ever-changing patchwork. We take a closer look at some of the more recent changes to this e-compliance landscape as well as those that are just around the corner.
The scope of the legal compliance requirements affecting businesses operating websites and apps is broad, covering consumer protection, data protection, privacy, accessibility, advertising and promotions and e-commerce as well as the general rules applying to the provision of services and trading companies. For those publishing apps or integrating with social media platforms, there are also rules prescribed by the relevant social and e-store platforms that will apply.
Our legal e-compliance solution 'EPIC' helps businesses to ensure their websites and apps are legally compliant with the full range of these requirements by delivering user-friendly, tailored site documents for websites or apps, together with detailed compliance actions that developers can use to 'build in' legal compliance at the design and development stage.
The following recent and forthcoming changes to the law, which EPIC will covers as they come into force, highlight the complexity and fast-moving nature of the e-compliance requirements applying to websites and apps:
- The Consumer Protection (Information, Cancellation and Additional Payments) Regulations 2013 came into force in June 2014 and require changes to the information that websites and apps with e-stores provide to consumers and introduced new rules in relation to consumers' 'cooling-off" periods, exemptions to consumers' cancellation rights, digital content, delivery times and the use of premium rate telephone lines. We look at the new rules under these Regulations in our recent legal update
- The Consumer Rights Act 2015 replaces much of the existing UK legislation relating to sale of goods and services to consumers and unfair contract terms, which will affect online traders too. See our recent legal update regarding the changes introduced by the Act and their potential impact on your business
- Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012 came into force in April 2013 and prohibit traders from charging consumers payment surcharges in excess of traders' costs when using credit cards and certain other types of payment method
- The Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014, effective 1 October 2014, amended the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and empower consumers to take their own private civil actions against traders who feel they have engaged in misleading or aggressive commercial practices. The new right of redress is available under B2C and C2B supply contracts and in relation to consumer payments to businesses. For further details, please see our legal update on these regulations
- The Data Protection Regulation which aims to create a directly effective, 'one-stop-shop' approach to data protection across all EU member states is expected to come into force in late 2017. These regulations are likely, among other things, to significantly increase the level of fines for non-compliance and for the first time, directly impose compliance obligations on data processors and controllers
- The Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) (Amendment) Regulations 2015 change the current law which requires the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) to prove an organisation has caused 'substantial damage or substantial distress' by its conduct before action can be taken. The Government is now removing this threshold from 6 April 2015 by giving the ICO the power to intervene in more cases, following its recent public consultation
For more information or enquiries about EPIC, please visit www.shoosmiths.co.uk/epic
This document is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given.