Online contracting and the supply of digital content to consumers
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis
This thesis examines the law in relation to contracts between trader and consumers for the supply of digital content in an electronic environment. It is placed at the intersection of contract law, consumer protection and information technology law. With the digital economy flourishing globally and the EU providing instruments designed to strengthen the digital single market, it is time to examine how the UK, as a common law jurisdiction, accommodates technological development. Basic contractual issues in the electronic environment have so far received limited attention but are of major importance for businesses, and consumers alike, when it comes to making purchases. The position of consumers, particularly, deserves attention in this regard since they are generally the weaker party vis-a-vis the trader in respect of bar gaining power but also the level of understanding as to the functioning of the product they are about to purchase. On line purchases have long become second nature, particularly since the number of digital products which are instantaneously available increases daily. New types of 'digital content' appear on the market and, in the past, there has been great uncertainty regarding the laws that apply regarding their supply. In October 2015, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 introduced the concept of 'digital content' into the law for England and Wales, recognising it as another form of product supplied under a contract, distinct from contracts for the sale of goods and the supply of services. At the time of writing, this category of 'digital content' is only specified in relation to consumer contracts, to which this thesis is confined, but some reference to business contracts will be made where appropriate. The analysis will reveal deficiencies in the law regarding contractual rules, and those for the protection of consumers, that do not perform satisfactorily.