How can the reality of a tradesman providing mobile repair services to the public from a van be reconciled with the right to cancel provided for in the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 (“the Regulations”) (the so called “cooling off period”)?
Whilst I am not aware of case-law definitively deciding the issue one way or another, it is unlikely that any tribunal would find the tradesman’s van to be “premises” for the purposes of the Regulations. This means that any contracts reached by the tradesman (a “trader”) with customers (more correctly “consumers”) in relation to services to be provided from the van (whether agreed over the telephone/email or people just hailing the van when they see it in the street) will be taken to be “distance contracts” or “off-premises” contracts for the purposes of the Regulations. Subject as follows, the right to cancel within the “cooling off period” provided for under Reg 29 the Regulations will therefore apply.
The Regulations distinguish between contracts for the supply of goods and contracts for the supply of services and have different provisions for each type of contract. It would seem however that the contracts made by our tradesman will be a mix of both of these: being the sale of parts (supply of goods) and fitting them (supply of services).
Nonetheless the most useful exemption is likely to be Reg 36 which provides that the consumer ceases to have the right to cancel in relation to services provided during the cancellation period where the services have been provided during that period at the consumer’s specific request and completed. The request must be made on a “durable medium” and include the acknowledgement that the consumer will lose the right to cancel once the contract has been fully performed.
In relation to goods there are various provisions which may also be of assistance:
- Reg 27(3): the right to cancel does not apply contracts where the payment made is £42 or less;
- Reg 28(3)(c) provides that the right to cancel will not apply if the goods become mixed inseparably with other items after delivery (there must surely be an argument that in relation to some car parts this is the case); and
- Subject to the limitation at Reg 28(2), Reg 28(1)(e) provides that the right of cancellation is excluded in contracts where the consumer has specifically requested a visit from the trader for the purpose of carrying out urgent repairs or maintenance (Reg 28(2) states that this exclusion does not apply in relation to services and/or goods which are above and beyond the specific items urgently required – case law will in due course no doubt clarify what is meant by urgent).
On the whole then our tradesman should not have too much trouble provided that appropriate notices are signed off by customers before services are carried out (and parts fitted).
Get in Touch
The Property & Commercial Department at Barrett & Co would be happy to assist with the drafting of such notices (the usual cost should be around £250 – £400 plus VAT depending, of course, on the details of what is required). Please contact Martin Reynolds on [email protected] or on 0118 958 9711