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It is the first time SOFAA have seen fit to change their model terms for more than a decade. The move reflects advice from solicitors, which identified the need for revised terms in online selling after the act came into force in October.

One of the information requirements that affects online auction sales in particular is the need for a 'trader' (professional dealer) selling at auction to give their name and address to the 'consumer' (the potential buyer) before the sale.

In short, online-only auctioneers will no longer be able to keep the names of their consignors secret - a major change for an industry where anonymity is a time-honoured custom and often highly prized.

Another key change introduced by the regulations is that any consumer who purchases goods or services online has the right to cancel their purchase of those goods or services for a fixed period after concluding the contract. Items returned long after vendors have been paid is clearly problematic.

"The Trade Won't Like It"

Ian Cadzow, chairman and managing director at Roseberys, was one of several auctioneers asked to review the new T&Cs before publication. He said: "What interests us most in the legislation is the right to return if people cannot preview items and then simply don't like the goods, and the potential obligation to disclose the seller's details. I don't see what's being achieved - and the trade won't like it."

Modern consumer protection law, whether from the UK or the EU, is having a steadily increasing impact on the sale of goods by auction. The Consumer Rights Act does provide a welcome exception to a number of the general terms if a consumer is purchasing second-hand goods at a public auction with the opportunity to attend the auction in person.

However, a significant change in the terms and conditions for 'onsite' auctions relates to the recommending of shippers. Now, when an auctioneer suggests a carrier, the responsibility for its safe passage rests with the saleroom until the item is delivered.

All these requirements are reflected in the model terms and conditions which are available to SOFAA members free of charge.