Car dealerships have now received welcome clarification from the government that they can sell and deliver cars to customers, despite the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.

The clarification came in the form of a statement from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), as reported by Car Dealer magazine and The Telegraph.

According to Car Dealer magazine (see article available here: https://cardealermagazine.co.uk/publish/official-government-confirms-car-dealers-can-sell-cars-deliver-lockdown/190704), a BEIS spokesperson confirmed that car dealerships can continue to sell cars remotely and deliver cars, as long as they follow guidance from the government and Public Health England to protect employees and workers.

But what does a move to regular remote sales mean for car dealerships in terms or legal processes and paperwork?

Car dealerships completing sales online, by email or over the telephone on more than a one-off basis without face-to-face contact with customers have to comply with regulations on distance contracts, as set out in The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. 

These regulations require traders entering into distance contracts to provide their customers with certain information, including details of the total price of the goods (or how it will be calculated), delivery charges, and arrangements for delivery, before the customer enters into the contract. They also give customers a 14-day ‘cooling off period’ during which the customer can cancel their contract just because they have changed their mind.

The fact that the customer might meet a representative of the car dealership on delivery of their car will not stop the contract being a distance contract.

Car dealerships looking to take advantage of the government’s clarification by selling cars online, by email or over the telephone would be well advised to get their legal processes and paperwork ‘sales distancing-ready’.