Act no. 11 of 24 March 1972 relating to a cooling-off period in connection with certain contracts for consumer purchases etc. (the Cooling-off Period Act)

The title of the Act was amended by Act no. 45 of 4 March 1983. Cf. §§ 7 and 39 of Act no. 4 of 31 March 1918 and Act no. 27 of 13 May 1988.

§ 1.¹ Scope of the Act

The present Act applies when the buyer enters into a contract or makes an offer of purchase (order) for a consumer purchase,² either

On the conditions mentioned in the first paragraph, the Act applies correspondingly to contracts, orders or instructions relating to:

The Act does not apply

1 Amended by Acts no. 45 of 3 June 1983 and no. 134 of 18 December 1992 (in force from 1 January 1993 according to Royal Decree no. 1072 of 18 December 1992). - Cf. Chapter 3 of Act no. 21 of 6 June 1980.

2 See § 2.

§ 2.¹ Definitions

For the purposes of the present Act, consumer purchase or consumer hire means the purchase or hire, from a person acting in his capacity as a professional seller or professional lessor, of goods which under the circumstances appear to be mainly intended for the personal use of the buyer or hirer, or of his household or acquaintances, or for other personal purposes.²

For the purposes of the present Act, contract for the supply of services means contracts or instructions for specific services which suppliers of services are to perform in their line of business, and which under the circumstances appear to be mainly intended for the personal use of the consumers or their families, households or acquaintances, or for other personal purposes.

By mail order sale is meant the purchase of goods to be sent to the buyer, provided the seller has offered, in a catalogue, folder, advertisement or other marketing, to send the goods on receipt of an order in writing or by telephone, and the buyer has made such an order.

1 Amended by Acts no. 45 of 3 June 1983 and no. 134 of 18 December 1992 (in force from 1 January 1993 according to Royal Decree no. 1072 of 18 December 1992).

2 Cf. the third paragraph of § 1 of Act no. 18 of 28 April 1978, subsections (3) and (4) of § 3 of Act no. 82 of 21 June 1985, and § 4 of Act no. 27 of 13 May 1988.

§ 3.¹ Duration and commencement of the cooling-off period

The buyer can cancel the contract or order if he notifies the seller of this before the end of the tenth day following the day mentioned in the second and third paragraphs (the cooling-off period). If the cooling-off period ends on a Sunday, Saturday, or holiday or on the 1st or 17th of May, it does not expire until the next working day. It is sufficient for the notification to have been handed in at a post office or telegraph station before the expiry of the cooling-off period.

In respect of a consumer purchase or consumer hire contract, the cooling-off period commences on the day when the buyer or hirer receives the item or first consignment of goods and receives a form letter as mentioned in § 4. The cooling-off period nevertheless expires at the latest when three months have elapsed from the day on which the buyer or hirer received the item, even if he has received no form letter.

In connection with the purchase of goods to be made or adapted to the buyer's own needs, it can be agreed that the cooling-off period shall commence on the day when the consumer received the form letter according to § 4. The second period of the second paragraph of § 3 applies correspondingly.

When a contract is entered into for the supply of services, the cooling-off period commences on the day when the consumer received the form letter according to § 4. The cooling-off period nevertheless expires at the latest when three months have elapsed from the day on which the contract was entered into, even if the person concerned has received no form letter.

1 Amended by Acts no. 45 of 3 June 1983 and no. 134 of 18 December 1992 (in force from 1 January 1993 pursuant to Royal Decree no. 1072 of 18 December 1992).

§ 4.¹ Cooling-off period form letter

The buyer shall at the time when he enters into the contract or places the order be handed a form letter which clearly states the buyer's rights under the Act. In connection with telemarketing or mail order sales it is sufficient for the form letter to be sent with the goods.

If the seller acts through a representative who lacks the authority or has only limited authority to enter into a contract, the form letter shall also contain information to that effect. The same applies if the representative lacks the authority to give a verbal promise either additional to or departing from the written order or contract. If the form letter does not contain the information mentioned in this paragraph, the seller can not validly plead insufficient authority if the buyer could reasonably assume that the contract or promise was binding on the seller.

The King can issue more detailed rules² concerning the contents and wording of the form letter mentioned in the present Section, including its coordination with the obligation to provide proof of registration according to the fourth paragraph of § 3-1 of the Trade Act³.

1 Amended by Act no. 45 of 3 June 1983.

2 Issued by Royal Decree no. 686 of 23 March 1984.

3 Act no. 21 of 6 June 1980.

§ 5.¹ Exercise of cancellation rights

If the buyer cancels the contract according to § 3, the seller is obliged to repay any part of the payment he has received within a reasonable time after the buyer has made the goods available to the seller for collection. If the buyer is unable to return the goods in substantially the same condition and quantity as he received them, he can only cancel the contract if the destruction or reduced value of the goods is not due to lack of proper care on his part.² The buyer can refuse to hand over the goods if he does not at the same time receive his own performance in return.3) If the seller does not collect the goods within three months of receiving notification that the buyer was cancelling the contract, they shall become the buyer's property free of charge.

If the goods were mailed to the buyer, he shall return them in the same manner, provided the seller has arranged for suitable packaging and return postage. In other respects the first paragraph applies correspondingly.

In connection with mail order sales4), the buyer can not delay returning the goods until his own performance is refunded, provided the seller has supplied suitable return packaging. Where mail order sales are concerned², the cost of returning the goods is borne by the buyer unless the seller is in breach of contract.5) The buyer is not obliged to redeem the consignment before the goods are returned to the seller. It is sufficient if the buyer, before the expiry of the cooling-off period, sends the seller a letter informing him that he is exercising his right to cancel the contract, encloses a cheque or postal giro form for the correct return postage, and at the same time asks the post office to return the goods to the seller. In other respects the first paragraph applies correspondingly.

A contract for the performance of services cannot be cancelled when the service has begun. This does not apply, however, if the supplier of the service has approached the consumer in his or another consumer's home or at the consumer's place of work, or if the contract was entered into during an excursion arranged by the supplier of the service. The first and second paragraphs, except the second period of the first paragraph, apply correspondingly to goods received by the consumer in connection with the service, provided the buyer is not put to any expense or serious inconvenience in placing the goods at the disposal of the supplier of the service.

1 Amended by Acts no. 45 of 3 June 1983 and no. 134 of 18 December 1992 (in force from 1 January 1993 according to Royal Decree no. 1072 of 18 December 1992).

2 Cf. § 66 of Act no. 27 of 13 May 1988.

3 Cf. § 64 (2) of Act no. 27 of 13 May 1988.

4 See the third paragraph of § 2.

5 See Chapter V of Act no. 27 of 13 May 1988.

§ 6.¹ Indispensability

The Act can not be departed from by agreement to the detriment of the buyer.

1 Amended by Act no. 45 of 3 June 1983.

§ 7.¹ Entry into force

The Act shall enter into force from such date as the King shall decide.²

1 Amended by Act no. 45 of 3 June 1983.

2 From 1 July 1972 according to the Royal Decree of 24 March 1972.

Regulation

§ 4. Ministry of Children and Family Affairs 1984-03-23 686 Regulation relating to a cooling-off period in connection with certain contracts for consumer purchases etc. (the Cooling-off Period Act).