The French Consumer Act, aka the Hamon Law (Act N˚ 2014-344 of March 17, 2014), will enter into force on June 13, 2014. It incorporates the provisions of the EU Directive on Consumer Rights of 2011 (Directive 2011/83/EU of October 25, 2011) which promotes e-commerce in the EU at national and cross-border level.
In order to comply with EU rules on consumer protection, e-merchants will need to provide more detailed information to consumers. This information obligation includes information on the obligation to pay, return costs, procedures to exercise the consumer’s withdrawal right and accepted modes of payment.
In the same vein, the Hamon law will bring in line with EU law the withdrawal and refund periods, which will be 14 days instead of 7 and the delivery period within the EU, which will be 30 days. The consumer will also have 30 days to make a request for cancellation of the sale based on non-delivery. Moreover, the Consumer Act prohibits contractual provisions which transfer the liability associated with the transport risk to the consumer.
Furthermore, the consumer’s consent will have to be obtained by opt-in; the consumer will compulsorily have to tick the boxes to notify his consent.
With regards to the protection of e-merchants, new exceptions to the withdrawal right will be established, mostly for hygiene purposes. E-merchants will also be able to hold consumers liable if the returned product has been overused. Finally, the e-merchants will not be held liable in case of loss or damage of products upon delivery, provided that the consumer chose his carrier.
What are the required updates for e-merchants?
- Amending general terms and conditions of sale in order to incorporate the changes in time limits and the new rules;
- Training and educating employees and partners on the new procedures, particularly on returns and refunds;
- Adjusting the order process to be in line with the new rules;
- Sending order confirmations containing all the required information on a durable medium which the consumer can store;
- Modifying the order button so it shows clearly the obligation to pay.
These measures form part of the EU’s fight for consumer protection. These measures are not limited to the regulation of e-commerce; they also provide for amendments in relation to litigation, with the introduction of class actions “à la française”.