Purchase of goods and services in the UK after Brexit

What happens to your two-year guarantee as ensured by EU law? If you buy a product from a British retailer now, what happens if you discover a defect after the exit date? Who can you go to for help and guidance?

Buying products in British online shops

If the online shop targets Danish consumers

What rules apply if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement or transition deal depends on, among other things, whether the retailer (online shop) directs their marketing to Danish consumers or not.

If a British retailer directs their marketing to Danish customers, it is still Danish law that applies. The EU rules on consumer protection and decisions of the EU Court will therefore continue to apply as a general rule. This is indicated by factors such as having a website in Danish, the option to pay in DKK or that an online shop delivers to Denmark. In this case, you have a minimum of two years' legal guarantee if there is any defect in the item, and 14 days' right to cancel online purchases, regardless of the future policies of the British government.

If the online shop does not direct their marketing to Danish consumers, the rules explained below will apply.

What happens to my consumer rights if I buy a product online before Brexit?

If you purchase an item before Brexit, you will as a general rule be covered by the EU rules – even if you exercise your rights afterwards. This might be, for example, if you buy a product before Brexit, only to discover after Brexit that it already had a defect when purchased.

What happens to my consumer rights if I buy a product online after Brexit?

If you purchase an item after Brexit, you will, as a general rule, not be covered by the EU rules regarding the legal guarantee and the right to withdrawal. Many other issues are still not decided. It could for example become more difficult to get through with your claim if you and a trader disagree about who is responsible for a defect in the product.

Currently, there is no certainty that the options to complain that exists in the EU will continue to apply in the UK after Brexit

Right to withdrawal after Brexit

When shopping online in the EU, you have the right to withdrawal within 14 days (unless the product is custom-made for you). This right is transposed into British law and will still apply if you buy a product in a British online store after Brexit. However, the British government will be able to change the rules as they see fit after Brexit in a no-deal scenario. 

Legal guarantee after Brexit:

After Brexit you are no longer secured the minimum of two years legal guarantee. However, this does not mean that you necessarily have fewer rights. For example, guarantee in the UK is longer than the two years that are the minimum requirement in the EU. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, guarantee is six years, and in Scotland it is 5 years. This applies both to new goods and to used goods.  

Customs and duties

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, the rules on customs and duties will be the same as for other countries outside of the EU. This means that you will have to pay customs and duties if you buy products beyond a certain amount.

The question of whether you must pay customs and duties depends on whether you buy the product in a physical store or online. You can read more about the customs and duties on the Danish Customs Agency’s website.

Buying products in physical stores after Brexit

What happens to my consumer rights if I buy a product before Brexit?

If you purchase an item before Brexit, you will as a general rule be covered by the EU rules – even if you exercise your rights afterwards. This might be, for example, if you buy a product before Brexit, only to discover after Brexit that it already had a defect when purchased. 

What happens to my consumer rights if I buy a product after Brexit?

If you purchase an item after Brexit, you will as a general rule not be covered by the EU rules regarding the legal guarantee. Many issues are still not decided. It could for example become more difficult to get through with your claim if you and a trader disagree about who is responsible for a defect in the product.

Currently, there is no certainty that the options to complain that exists in the EU will continue to apply in the UK after Brexit.

Legal guarantee after Brexit

After Brexit you are no longer secured the minimum of two years legal guarantee. However, this does not mean that you necessarily have fewer rights. For example, the legal guarantee in the UK is longer than the two years that are the minimum requirement in the EU. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the legal guarantee is six years, and in Scotland it is 5 years. This applies both to new goods and to used goods. However, the British government will be able to change the rules as they see fit after Brexit in a no-deal scenario. 

Right to withdrawal after Brexit

When shopping in physical stores you cannot necessarily claim the right to withdrawal. However, many stores offer a 14-day right to withdrawal voluntarily. It’s always a good idea to ask before you buy the product.

Customs and duties

If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, the rules on customs and duties will be the same as for other countries outside of the EU. This means that you will have to pay customs and duties if you buy products beyond a certain amount.

The question of whether you must pay customs and duties depends on whether you buy the product in a physical store or online. You can read more about the customs and duties on the Danish Customs Agency’s website.  

24. January 2019

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