Introduction

In the Netherlands, the EU Directive on distance selling 1 has been implemented in the Distance Selling Act 2, which came into effect on 1 February 2001. The EU Directive on e-commerce should have been implemented on 17 January 2002, but the legislative proposal for the implementation act 3 has only recently been submitted to the Dutch Parliament. Both the Distance Selling Act and the legislative proposal for the E-commerce Act impose certain information obligations upon operators of websites, who offer goods or services online. As a consequence, such operators should organise their sales processes in such a way that all required information is provided to their customers, in the right stage of the sales process and in the right way.

The checklist below may be useful for companies established in The Netherlands who offer products or services via their website. This checklist provides for a first check of the website's compliance with the information obligations under the Distance Selling Act and the legislative proposal for the E-commerce Act.

Please note that this checklist is not an exhaustive test for checking websites, as more (information) obligations may apply pursuant to other laws or regulations. Moreover, the legislative proposal for the E-commerce Act has not been discussed in Dutch Parliament yet, and therefore is still subject to changes.

User's manual

In the column at the left-hand side of the checklist, you will find an overview of the information obligations as referred to in the Distance Selling Act and the legislative proposal for the E-commerce Act. We have classified the information in four categories.

The four columns in the centre of the checklist explain the manner, whereby the information should be provided. We have used the terminology "BtC", if certain information should be provided in business-to-consumer relations only. If the information should also be provided in business-to-business relations, we have filled in the notice "BtB + BtC".

For instance: the VAT-identification number should be provided in both BtC and BtB relations, and should be easily, directly and permanently accessible for the customer. The information on the minimum duration of contracts should be provided prior to the conclusion of the contract in a clear, comprehensible and unambiguous manner, but in business-to-consumer relations only.

The column at the right hand side includes references to the Dutch Civil Code (sections 7:46x are provisions from the Distance Selling Act, the remaining sections are provisions from the legislative proposal for the E-commerce Act).

1. Directive 97/7/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 1997 on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts.
2. Stb. 2001, 25
3. TK, 2001-2002, 28 197

Checklist E-contracts

Overview of the information obligations pursuant to the Distance Selling Act (Stb. 2001, 25) and Legislative proposal for the E-commerce Act (TK 2001-2002, 28197, no.1-2). Please note that the Legislative proposal for the E-Commerce Act has not been discussed in the Dutch Parliament and therefore is still subject to changes.

Information to be provided / Manner of providing information

Easily, directly and permanently accessible

Prior to the conclusion of the contract in a clear, comprehensible and unambiguous manner

Promptly on the performance of the distance sale and at the latest at the time of delivery in a clear and comprehensible manner in writing or on other available, accessible and durable data carriers, unless already provided

Prior to or at the conclusion of the contract, saveable and accessible for later examination

Manner of Providing information / Reference in the Dutch Civil Code

Company details

- identity

BtB + BtC

BtC

BtC

3:15d,para.1a; 7:46c,para.1-a;7:46c,para.2-a

- address

BtB + BtC

BtC

BtC

3:15d,para.1a; 7:46c,para.1-a;7:46c,para.2-a

- details for direct communication (email address)

BtB + BtC

3:15d,para. 1-b

- registration number of Trade Register

BtB + BtC

3:15d,para. 1-c

- particulars of supervisory authority

BtB + BtC

3:15d,para. 1-d

- details of regulated professions

BtB + BtC

3:15d,para. 1-e

- VAT identification number

BtB + BtC

3:15d,para. 1-f

- visiting address to deliver complaints

BtC

7:46c,para.2-c

Product Information
- main characteristics of the products

BtC

BtC

7:46c,para.1-b;7:46c,para.2-a

- price (including taxes)

BtC

BtC

7:46c,para.1-c;7:46c,para.2-a

- delivery costs

BtC

BtC

7:46c,para.1-d;7:46c,para.2-a

- arrangements for payment delivery and performance

BtC

BtC

7:46c,para.1-e;7:46c,para.2-a

Contract Information
- existence or absence of right to cancel

BtC

7:46c,para.1-f

- costs of distance communication

BtC

7:46c,para.1-g

- period of acceptance to offer

BtC

7:46c,para.1-h

- minimum duration of contracts

BtC

7:46c,para.1-i

- Codes of Conduct

BtB + BtC

6:227b,para.1-e

- conditions for the exercise of right to cancel

BtC

7:46c,para.2-b

- information as regards warranty

BtC

7:46c,para.2-d

- conditions for notice of cancellation of contract

BtC

7:46c,para.2-e

Information on the conclusion of the contract
- steps to follow to conclude contract

BtB + BtC

6:227b,para.1-a

- filing and accessibility of contract

BtB + BtC

6:227b,para.1-b

- technical means for identifying and correcting errors

BtB + BtC

6:227b,para.1-c

- languages offered for the conclusion of contract

BtB + BtC

6:227b,para.1-d

Terms and conditions
- standard terms and conditions

BtB + BtC

6:234,para.1-c

- conditions of the contract, not being standard terms

BtB + BtC

6:227b,para.2

Authors