HM Insights

Coronavirus – legal considerations when changing your business model from B2B to B2C, or distance selling

The coronavirus lockdown has forced a massive change in the way we work in every sector. Those of us who are used to working in offices are having to adjust to "remote working", while the tourism, food, leisure and hospitality and retail sectors have been among those hardest hit, with hotels, bars, clubs, restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons being some of the first businesses forced to close.

Although the government's coronavirus job retention scheme, support to compensate the self-employed, bank loan funding schemes, tax and rates concessions, grants and other business assistance aim to enable many of these businesses to start trading again once the current crisis is over, that will take some time and some of them may not survive.

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Switching to a different form of selling goods and services

Many wholesale food and drink suppliers have turned to retail sales, with home delivery directly to consumers to replace some of their lost income and some plan to continue that in the longer term. Other high street retailers of goods and services that do not require any physical interaction are now completely dependent upon internet and mail order sales.

Businesses switching from wholesale "business to business" sales to "business to consumer" sales or from "face to face" on their business premises to "distance" selling of goods and services need to comply with:

  • different statutory provisions that apply to contracts between businesses and consumers, affording consumers with greater protection, for example: requiring certain information to be provided, including as to price and delivery arrangements, the seller's details, specific cancellation rights and imposing terms as to product quality, rights to reject or claim a refund
  • additional electronic and/or distance selling regulations if sales are being concluded via the internet or by telephone, and a new or upgraded website and additional terms of use for that may be necessary
  • data protection law when processing customers' personal data, requiring an appropriate data protection policy and/or privacy notice, to obtain the requisite consent and to be aware of rules about retention of data

Businesses should also amend or replace standard contact terms and conditions, and review and
update their data protection compliance when making these changes to the way business is

Get in touch

For advice on these or any other commercial contract issues please contact a member of our commercial contracts team.

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