New Consumer Contracts Regulations apply from 13 June

These regulations apply to retainers with consumers, from 13 June 2014.  They are horrible.  Full of traps and ambiguities.

The consequence that when the retainer is a “distance contract” (e.g. most contracts made by phone or email) or made “off premises” and the client is a consumer, the client has a 14 day cooling off period during which they can cancel and pay nothing.

If you do not get your paperwork right, including telling the client of their 14 day cancellation right, and giving them a cancellation form, they can avoid paying.  You may even have committed a criminal offence.

You also need to get a request in writing from the client that you start work within the 14 days.  That is what virtually all clients want of course.

This is in our view absurd over-regulation, given that clients can normally cancel a law firm’s retainer at any time.  But you ignore the rules at your peril.

We have updated the Socrates precedent engagement letter and terms of business, and have sent a guide on how to comply to subscribers to our COLP & COFA service.

Mind how you go.

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