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Selling and Marketing


Selling and marketing

Legal information and advice about the law on the sale of goods and supply of services; business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) sales; doorstep selling, distance selling,  e-commerce law, unfair terms; marketing and advertising regulation; advertising codes; comparative and misleading marketing; direct marketing by post, email and telephone.


All businesses involve the marketing and selling of goods or services. All businesses must also buy goods and services. The law has a significant impact on the marketing and the selling of the goods and services. This guide aims to give a business owner or manager a basic understanding of this area of law.

The law relating to the selling and marketing of goods and services has become increasingly complex, particularly in relation to sales to consumers, i.e. customers who are not buying for the purposes of a business. The law is a patchwork of English common law, Acts of Parliament and EU derived regulations.

This guide makes a distinction between “selling” and “marketing”. While the distinction may be understood in business terms, the law is not always clear cut. In this guide, selling refers to the law about the formation and content of the contract of sale, and the consequences of breaking it. Marketing is to do with the law about advertising and promotion of goods and services, though recent regulation tends to blur the distinction.

This guide is intended to present the main legal points relevant for business owners and managers in a clear and logical order. It is a simplification but you do not need to be a legal expert.

Further reading:

* The Trading Standards Institute offers  practical guidance in the Business Companion

* See Wikipedia for a discussion of English contract law and Scots law of contract.

The basics of a legal contract

The sale or purchase of any goods or supply of any services will involve a legally binding contract.  Most contracts, including sale contracts, do not have to be in writing. In day to day simple cases, a contract is often verbal and/or implied from actions. The most common example is a purchase in a retail shop. In more complicated cases, e.g. high value goods, distance and on line sales, and supply of services, a written contract is important.

The basics: contract for sale deal with the folowing:

* Contract for sale
* Creation of the contract
* Freedom of contract
* Oral or writing
* Implied terms of contract
* Terms and conditions
* Retail sales – shops and markets
* Custom and usage
* Terms implied by a course of dealing
* Terms and conditions of sale – the small print
* Contract procedure and the “battle of forms”
* Purchase contracts
* Real life issues

* Limitation and exclusion clauses
* Misrepresentation
* Mistakes
* Pricing errors
* Late payment of commercial debts

Legal tender

In a retail sale and under any other contract (unless the contract provides otherwise), the seller must accept payment if it is “tendered” (i.e. offered) in the form of notes and coins which are classified as “legal tender”. Read more> Legal tender.

Sale of goods law

Sale of goods law deals with:

* Sale of Goods Act 1979 (SGA)

* Satisfactory quality

* Fitness for a particular purpose

* Delivery time

* Rights of the buyer in case of breach of contract

* Hire purchase and hire contracts

* Sales to consumers

* Unfair Terms

Supply of services

Supply of services deals with:

* Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

* Provision of Services Regulations

* Supplies to consumers

Agents and distributors

Read more: Agents and distributors

International selling and marketing

Selling and marketing - International deals with:

* Terms and conditions in the sale contract

* Appointment of Agents and distributors

* Local selling and marketing laws

* Export control and licensing

* Trade sanctions EU selling and marketing


Discrimination DEALS WITH:

* Provision of services directive

* UK anti-discrimination legislation and the Equality Act

Inertia selling to businesses

Read more: Inertia selling to businesses

Electronic Commerce

Selling and marketing e-commerce deals with:

* Electronic Commerce (EC Directive) Regulations 2002

* Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000

* Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003

Sales to consumers

Deals with:

* What is a 'consumer'?
* Payment surcharges
* Unfair terms in consumer contracts
* Limitation and exclusion clauses
* Unreasonable indemnity clauses
* Guarantee of goods supplied for private use or consumption
* Sale of Goods Act - consumers' rights

* Sales to consumers distance and online

* Doorstep selling

Children and Young Persons

Read more: Children and Young Persons

Prices, weights and measures

Read more: Prices weights and measures

Regulated products and services

See: Regulated products

Marketing and advertising regulation

The regulation of marketing (including in this context advertising) by businesses has developed significantly in recent years under the influence of EU law. Regulations introduced under EU law have superseded most of the former UK trade descriptions legislation.

Marketing and advertising regulation
Advertising Codes
Advertising to businesses and    comparative advertising
Advertising to consumer regulations
Approved trader schemes
Direct marketing by telephone, email,    text message, fax and post
Data protection in relation to marketing

[Page updated: 16/04/2018]


More information>

The basics: contract for sale
Legal tender
Sale of goods
Supply of services
Agents and distributors

International selling and marketing
Inertia selling to businesses
Sales to consumers

Children and young persons

Prices weights and measures

Regulated products
Marketing and advertising regulation