Cancellation button for distance contracts

As a result of consumer-friendly changes relating to the conclusion and termination of distance contracts, consumers have been given the option of cancelling online contracts by pressing a cancellation button on the company's website. The above regulation applies to all entrepreneurs that enable the conclusion of a distance contract through their website.

Design guidelines for the cancellation button

Enterprises that operate a website are legally obliged to comply with certain requirements when designing a cancellation button. According to § 312k sec. 2 of the German Civil Code (Bürgerliches Gesetzbuch, hereinafter: BGB), the option to cancel a contract must be easily recognisable and clearly marked, for example with terms such as ‘cancel contracts here’. In addition, when the button is clicked, the user should be forwarded directly to a confirmation page where they can enter their data, information about the contract to be cancelled, the type of cancellation and the date on which the contractual relationship is to be terminated. To complete the cancellation of the contract, the entrepreneur must provide an additional confirmation button marked with the words ‘cancel now’ or a correspondingly clear formulation.

It should also be noted that the consumer must have the option of recording their declaration to terminate the contract together with the date and time of the declaration on a durable medium in such a way that it is recognizable that the declaration of cancellation was made by pressing the confirmation button.

Requirements for accessibility and confirmation of online cancellation

The cancellation button must always be easily and permanently accessible to all users. According to the latest ruling of the Düsseldorf Higher Regional Court of 23 May 2024, case no. I-20 UKl 3/23, access to the cancellation option must be direct and cannot depend on the user first registering or logging into an account on the website. According to the court, a cancellation procedure designed in such a way that it is only possible to cancel the contract after entering the user name and password violates the consumer protection provision of § 312k sec. 2 BGB.

Users should also have the option of documenting their cancellation. Entrepreneurs are obliged to confirm receipt of the cancellation without delay, whereby the text form, e.g. by sending an email, is sufficient.

If the entrepreneur, who is legally obliged to provide a cancellation button, does not provide this on the website or if the button leads to a login page instead of a confirmation page, the user is entitled to cancel the contract without observing the notice period.

Does every distance contract fall within the scope of the regulation?

According to § 312k sec. 1 BGB, the obligation to provide a cancellation button applies to all contracts that can be concluded via a website in e-commerce and which are aimed at establishing a continuing obligation on the basis of which the entrepreneur is obliged to provide the consumer with services in return for payment. However, the obligation to provide a cancellation button does not apply to contracts for financial services or contracts that require the written form or a special form, such as a notarial act, to be valid. It should also be noted that the regulation not only applies to contracts concluded with consumers after the legal requirement comes into force, i.e. from 1 July 2022, but also to contracts concluded before 1 July 2022.

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