Businesses and On Line Trading

If you sell goods or services to consumers over the telephone, via the internet, fax, e-mail or television then you are selling via a distance means or communication. Any sale made in this manner is governed by the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000.

These Regulations only cover sales to consumers. A consumer for the purposes of the Regulations means any natural person who, in contracts to which these Regulations apply, is acting for purposes which are outside his business.

A one off order made by phone and followed through will not be covered.

Certain contracts that are excluded from these Regulations and they are called Excepted contracts, which are detailed in the Regulations. There is also a list of other types of contracts which are not covered or partly exempted from the Regulations. You should check with a specialist adviser on the Regulations whether or not your business is covered.

You have to comply with the Regulations to provide pre-contract information. Exactly what is required is listed in the Regulations.

The consumer will have the right to cancel the contract. In the case of goods, this starts from the day that the contract is concluded. Basically the customer has until the end of a period of seven working days after the goods are delivered to cancel. In the case of services the cancellation rights start on the day that the contract is concluded and the customer has seven working days to cancel.

Failure to comply with the Regulations means that the contract is invalid. You may also be liable to prosecution by Trading Standards.

If you use distance communication to sell your goods or services you must get your terms and conditions reviewed now.

For more information contact Sara Checkley on 01507 522456 or e-mail

A New Tax Year – Finance Act 2010

The new tax year is a good time to put your personal tax affairs in order. Are you taking full advantage of all personal tax reliefs? Have you taken lawful tax avoidance measures to reduce the amount of tax you, or indeed your company, are paying?

Chattertons’ private clients benefit from a wealth of personal tax and advice at the firm. Now could be a good time to make or revise your will, particularly as inheritance tax thresholds have been frozen in the Finance Act 2010.

National insurance contributions are due to rise next year depending on which Government wins power and plenty of clients can benefit from advice on how to go self-employed and how to structure their work, business or company to take advantage of lower rates.

Given the difference between 50% income tax and 10% CGT for those selling a business (for the first £2m of gains), it can be wise to take advice on how you can ensure your affairs are structured so that you are paying capital gains tax rather than income tax. In addition, individuals have an annual CGT allowance, which many do not use, and which has been frozen for 2010-11 at £10,100. Advantage can be taken of this.

The removal of stamp duty on properties up to £250,000 for first time buyers in the new legislation can be complex. It is worth taking legal advice on what is a “first time buyer” and how to structure a purchase to take advantage of it.

Also, some may be contemplating divorce or separation and it can be wise to see lawyers in advance of such decisions so that you know your full legal position if you decide to proceed.