New regulations giving greater consumer protection across the European Union for holiday timeshare and other long-term holiday products will come into force in February. The Government has therefore published guidance for the industry so that they have time to prepare for the February implementation date.
LONDON (December 16, 2010) — The Government consultation on the transposition of the European Commission’s new Timeshare Directive into UK law closed on 1 October earlier this year. The new common rules across the European Community will be in place by February 2011 and set the conditions for fair trading in timeshares.
Consumer Minister Edward Davey said:
“These products are often sold across borders, so it’s only right that we have protections in place for consumers that also cross borders. Knowing these regulations are in place will boost consumer confidence and boost business for legitimate traders.”
The regulations will provide a range of benefits to business:
- A simplification of the UK legislative regime – the new single set of regulations will replace the old Timeshare Act and a series of subsequent regulations which amended the Act. Those affected will have a simpler regime to understand with a standardised way of providing key information.
- A level playing field for business – since the adoption of the old regime new products (often referred to as “holiday clubs”) which offer a similar promise to that of timeshare, but which are not covered by law, have been developed. These products will now be subject to substantially the same regime as timeshare. The new regime should help to put an end to rogue activity in this sector.
- Improved consumer confidence – aside from attacking rogue activity in the sector, consumers will be provided with key information in good time before they enter any agreements and will have new rights in respect of those areas which have emerged as being most damaging to consumers – holiday club sales and timeshare resale services. Increased consumer confidence should drive improvements across the industry, helping the market to work better through encouraging participation and competition.
- Rogue traders will be dealt with by a combination of offences on the face of these regulations and offences under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 which will apply where provisions of the new regulations are not met.
1) Directive 2008/122/EC on the protection of consumer in respect of certain aspects of timeshare, long-term holiday product, resale and exchange contracts was adopted by the EU in January 2009, by the UK in February 2009 covers:
- Long-Term Holiday Products, also known as Holiday Clubs – contracts of more than one year in duration by which a consumer acquires access to promised discounts on accommodation and other travel services. Sellers will have to provide standardised information about the product as part of the contract. The contract will then be subject to a 14-day “no-strings” cooling-off period during which no payment is permitted. And the seller can only take yearly payment throughout the contract agreement, with the consumer able to terminate the contract as each payment becomes due.
- Timeshare – contracts of more than one year in duration by which the consumer acquires the right to use overnight accommodation for more than one period of occupation. Pre-contractual information provision is extended and substantially standardised and the cooling-off period extended from 10 days to 14 days Europe-wide. The ban on up-front payments is retained.
- Timeshare Resale – contracts by which the trader assists a consumer to sell or buy timeshare or a long-term holiday product. The new regulations require the trader to provide important pre-contractual information, a 14-day cooling-off period, and disbars the trader from accepting any payment until the sale of the timeshare is complete or the contract is otherwise terminated.
- Timeshare Exchange – contracts by which, via membership of an exchange scheme, consumers in exchange for providing temporary access to their timeshare rights acquire the right to access other overnight accommodation or other services. Most memberships are sold at the same time as a timeshare purchase and the consumer will have the 14-day cooling-off period attached to the timeshare sale in which to reconsider. When exchange membership is bought separately from a timeshare purchase the consumer has a separate 14-day cooling-off period.
2) Guidance on how to implement the regulations can be found on the BIS website here: http://www.bis.gov.uk/policies/consumer-issues/buying-and-selling/timeshare
3) BIS’ online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See http://www.bis.gov.uk/newsroom for more information
Phone: For enquiries please contact the issuing dept
SOURCE: NDS UK