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@ Electronic consumer contracts European perspectives Olivier SASSERATH Marx Van Ranst Vermeersch & Partners Bruxelles.

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Presentation on theme: "@ Electronic consumer contracts European perspectives Olivier SASSERATH Marx Van Ranst Vermeersch & Partners Bruxelles."— Presentation transcript:

1 @ Electronic consumer contracts European perspectives Olivier SASSERATH Marx Van Ranst Vermeersch & Partners Bruxelles

2 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Contents 1.Regulatory instruments: regulations and directives 2.Europe: minimum level' / partial harmonisation 3.Specific status for the ECC? 4.Validity, proof and signature of the ECC 5.Application of « distance contract » rules 6.Other general rules 7.IPL regulations on ECC

3 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Regulatory instruments European Union: –directives –regulations Member States: –Laws & regulations (federal, state, …) Players

4 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Directly applicable, Replace national rules Similar to an international treaty with immediate effect –example 1: Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters Conflict rules regarding jurisdiction issues –example 2: Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of 17 June 2008. on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) Conflict rules regarding applicable contract law Regulations Regulatory instruments

5 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Texts for national legislative bodies Provisions to be transposed into national law Freedom on how to transpose –example : directive 2000/31 of 8 June 2000, on certain legal aspects of information society services, in particular electronic commerce, in the Internal Market (Directive on electronic commerce example of provisions to be transposed: article 9.1. "Member States shall ensure that their legal system allows contracts to be concluded by electronic means. Member States shall in particular ensure that the legal requirements applicable to the contractual process neither create obstacles for the use of electronic contracts nor result in such contracts being deprived of legal effectiveness and validity on account of their having been made by electronic means" –Note: principle of conform interprétation After the transposition term, the national law is to be interpreted, as far as possible, in accordance with the provisions laid down by the directive. Directives Regulatory instruments

6 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Contents 1.Regulatory instruments: regulations and directives 2.Europe: minimum level' / partial harmonisation 3.Specific status for the ECC? 4.Validity, proof and signature of the ECC 5.Application of « distance contract » rules 6.Other general rules 7.IPL regulations on ECC

7 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Aim to harmonize several points of the various national laws : – either partially – or fully Regulatory instruments Directives

8 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Consumer protection: European regulations generally offer a minimum level of protection, the objective being to: »Encourage consumer confidence »Facilitate cross-border business "minimum": Member States may lay down stricter rules –example 1: Directive 97/7/CE of 20 May 1997 on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts Article 14: "Member States may introduce or maintain, in the area covered by this Directive, more stringent provisions compatible with the Treaty, to ensure a higher level of consumer protection. Such provisions shall, where appropriate, include a ban, in the general interest, on the marketing of certain goods or services, particularly medicinal products, within their territory by means of distance contracts, with due regard for the Treaty" –example 2: Directive 93/13/CE on unfair terms in consumer contracts Article 8: "Member States may adopt or retain the most stringent provisions compatible with the Treaty in the area covered by this Directive, to ensure a maximum degree of protection for the consumer" Types of harmonisation Partial harmonisation (minimum level)

9 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Minimum level and harmonisation –example: Directive 2005/29/CE of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market (unfair commercial practices) : " … Given the full harmonisation introduced by this Directive only the information required in Community law is considered as material for the purpose of Article 7(5) thereof. Where Member States have introduced information requirements over and above what is specified in Community law, on the basis of minimum clauses, the omission of that extra information will not constitute a misleading omission under this Directive. By contrast Member States will be able, when allowed by the minimum clauses in Community law, to maintain or introduce more stringent provisions in conformity with Community law so as to ensure a higher level of protection of consumers individual contractual rights " Full harmonisation

10 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Minimum level and harmonisation For consumers: uncertain about their rights when buying cross-border For sellers: since national consumer protection provisions are mandatory law, uncertainty regarding compliance with the rules applying abroad –A seller established in country A wanting to sell to a consumer established in country B shall need to comply with mandatory rules of country B « Country of origin » rule not applicable to contractual relationships with consumers Consequences of partial harmonisation

11 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Minimum level and harmonisation Article 3 §2 Directive 2000/31/CE : " Member States may not, for reasons falling within the coordinated field, restrict the freedom to provide information society services from another Member State" Article 16 Directive 2006/123/CE "1. Member States shall respect the right of providers to provide services in a Member State other than that in which they are established. The Member State in which the service is provided shall ensure free access to and free exercise of a service activity within its territory. Member States shall not make access to or exercise of a service activity in their territory subject to compliance with any requirements which do not respect the following principles: a) non-discrimination: the requirement may be neither directly nor indirectly discriminatory with regard to nationality or, in the case of legal persons, with regard to the Member State in which they are established; b) necessity: the requirement must be justified for reasons of public policy, public security, public health or the protection of the environment c) proportionality: the requirement must be suitable for attaining the objective pursued, and must not go beyond what is necessary to attain that objective. Country of origin rule: sources

12 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Minimum level and harmonisation 2. Member States may not restrict the freedom to provide services in the case of a provider established in another Member State by imposing any of the following requirements: (a) an obligation on the provider to have an establishment in their territory; (b) an obligation on the provider to obtain an authorization from their competent authorities including entry in a register or registration with a professional body or association in their territory, except where provided for in this Directive or other instruments of Community law; (c) a ban on the provider setting up a certain form or type of infrastructure in their territory, including an office or chambers, which the provider needs in order to supply the services in question; (d) the application of specific contractual arrangements between the provider and the recipient which prevent or restrict service provision by the self-employed; (e) an obligation on the provider to possess an identity document issued by its competent authorities specific to the exercise of a service activity; (f) requirements, except for those necessary for health and safety at work, which affect the use of equipment and material which are an integral part of the service provided; (g) restrictions on the freedom to provide the services referred to in Article 19. 3. The Member State to which the provider moves shall not be prevented from imposing requirements with regard to the provision of a service activity, where they are justified for reasons of public policy, public security, public health or the protection of the environment and in accordance with paragraph 1. Nor shall that Member State be prevented from applying, in accordance with Community law, its rules on employment conditions, including those laid down in collective agreements. (...)

13 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Minimum level and harmonisation Article 3 §3 et §4 Directive 2000/31/CE: " 3. Paragraphs 1 and 2 shall not apply to the fields referred to in the Annex. 4. Member States may take measures to derogate from paragraph 2 in respect of a given information society service if the following conditions are fulfilled: (a) the measures shall be: (i) necessary for one of the following reasons: (…) - the protection of consumers, including investors; (ii) taken against a given information society service which prejudices the objectives referred to in point (i) or which presents a serious and grave risk of prejudice to those objectives; (iii) proportionate to those objectives" –Annex : " … contractual obligations concerning consumer contacts… " Directive 2006/123/CE : "provisions regarding contractual and non-contractual obligations, including the form of contracts, determined pursuant to the rules of private international law" (article 17 in fine Directive Services). Country of origin rule: not for consumer contracts

14 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Minimum level and harmonisation Principles in free provision of services and freedom of movement of goods: –No obligations if not « necessary and proportionate » with regard to the aim of consumer protection However... Conclusion National legislators may push consumer protection further and lay down stricter or complementary rules These rules must however comply with the criteria of « proportionality »and « necessity »

15 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Minimum level and harmonisation Green Paper on the Review of the Consumer Acquis (ECCG2007 009)(COM (2006) 744 final) of 8 February 2007, see http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cons_int/safe_shop/acquis/green-paper_cons_acquis_fr.pdf : http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/cons_int/safe_shop/acquis/green-paper_cons_acquis_fr.pdf –Stakeholders : full harmonisation : A majority of respondents call for the adoption of a horizontal legislative instrument applicable to domestic and cross-border transactions, based on full targeted harmonisation; i.e. targeted to the issues raising substantial barriers to trade for business and/or deterring consumers from buying cross-border. The horizontal legislative instrument should in the view of most respondents be combined with vertical revisions of the existing sectoral directives (for example revision of the Timeshare and Package Travel Directives). There is a strong support for tightening-up and systematising the consumer acquis, e.g. introducing common definitions of consumers/professionals and delivery, rules on withdrawal rights and the insertion at EU level of a "black" list of unfair contract terms (i.e. terms banned upfront) and a "grey" list of such terms (i.e. terms presumed to be unfair) instead of the current purely indicative list –The Commission is currently examining the measures to be taken. Problem recognized

16 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Contents 1.Regulatory instruments: regulations and directives 2.Europe: minimum level' / partial harmonisation 3.Specific status for the ECC? 4.Validity, proof and signature of the ECC 5.Application of « distance contract » rules 6.Other general rules 7.IPL regulations on ECC

17 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Specific status for the ECC? A few provisions about consumer contracts. –No specific body of rules with specific provisions on electronic consumer contracts Some rules are made mandatory for ECCs (not mandatory forB2B) : –Information about the ordering process (article 10 Directive) –Steps for placing orders (article 11 Directive). Directive 2000/31/CE (electronic commerce) Consumer contracts only Not limited to electronic contracts (article 2): –« any contract concerning goods or services concluded between a supplier and a consumer under an organized distance sales or service-provision scheme run by the supplier, who, for the purpose of the contract, makes exclusive use of one or more means of distance communication up to and including the moment at which the contract is concluded » Directive 1997/7/CE (contracts on distance)

18 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Specific status for the ECC? Rules apply to: –All consumer contracts –Whatever their object –irrespective of the way they are concluded Directive 2005/29/CE of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts Directive 1999/44/CE of 25 May 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees Directives 2005/29/CE – 1993/13/CE – 1999/44/CE

19 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Specific status for the ECC? Council Directive 87/102/EEC of 22 December 1986 for the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member Sites concerning consumer. Council Directive 90/314/EEC of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours. Directive 94/47/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 1994 on the protection of purchasers in respect of certain aspects of contracts relating to the purchase of the right to use immovable properties on a timeshare basis. Directive 2002/65/CE of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 September 2002 concerning the distance marketing of consumer financial services. Rules : –For consumer contracts of a particular type –Also for ECCs –Irrespective of the way they are concluded Directives 87/102/CE – 90/314/CE – 94/47/CE – 02/65/CE

20 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Specific status for the ECC? Not really a specific status : –Rules laid down in directives make no distinction between electronic and « traditional » contracts. –The European Commission has no intention to harmonise this area in the near future. Report on the outcome of the public consultation on the green paper on the review of the consumer acquis: The issue of consumer protection in respect of digital content services is important for many stakeholders (especially consumer organisations). It raised, however, serious concern in certain business quarters. Several respondents have correctly argued that this is a complex matter, which requires further careful analysis. This suggests that this analysis will be conducted separately from the general follow-up to the Green Paper Conclusion

21 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Contents 1.Regulatory instruments: regulations and directives 2.Europe: minimum level' / partial harmonisation 3.Specific status for the ECC? 4.Validity, proof and signature of the ECC 5.Application of « distance contract » rules 6.Other general rules 7.IPL regulations on ECC

22 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners ECC validity and proof Compulsory recognition of the validity of the electronic contract (article 9 Directive 2000/31/CE) « 1. Member States shall ensure that their legal system allows contracts to be concluded by electronic means. Member States shall in particular ensure that the legal requirements applicable to the contractual process neither create obstacles for the use of electronic contracts nor result in such contracts being deprived of legal effectiveness and validity on account of their having been made by electronic means. 2. Member States may lay down that paragraph 1 shall not apply to all or certain contracts falling into one of the following categories: (a) contracts that create or transfer rights in real estate, except for rental rights; (b) contracts requiring by law the involvement of courts, public authorities or professions exercising public authority; (c) contracts of suretyship granted and on collateral securities furnished by persons acting for purposes outside their trade, business or profession; (d) contracts governed by family law or by the law of succession Validity

23 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners ECC validity and proof Issue of « signed document » Directive 1999/93/CE on electronic signatures : - Article 5(1): 1. Member States shall ensure that advanced electronic signatures which are based on a qualified certificate and which are created by a secure-signature-creation device: (a) satisfy the legal requirements of a signature in relation to data in electronic form in the same manner as a handwritten signature satisfies those requirements in relation to paper- based data; and (b) are admissible as evidence in legal proceedings -Article 5(2): 2. Member States shall ensure that an electronic signature is not denied legal effectiveness and admissibility as evidence in legal proceedings solely on the grounds that it is: - in electronic form, or - not based upon a qualified certificate, or - not based upon a qualified certificate issued by an accredited certification-service-provider, or - not created by a secure signature-creation device Proof & signature

24 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners ECC validity and proof Application in Belgian law : –Art. 1322 Civil Code: « L'acte sous seing privé, reconnu par celui auquel on l'oppose, ou légalement tenu pour reconnu, a, entre ceux qui l'ont souscrit et entre leurs héritiers et ayants cause, la même foi que l'acte authentique. Peut satisfaire à l'exigence d'une signature, pour l'application du présent article, un ensemble de données électroniques pouvant être imputé à une personne déterminée et établissant le maintien de l'intégrité du contenu de l'acte » Proof & signature

25 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Contents 1.Regulatory instruments: regulations and directives 2.Europe: minimum level' / partial harmonisation 3.Specific status for the ECC? 4.Validity, form, proof and signature of the ECC 5.Application of « distance contract » rules 6.Other general rules 7.IPL regulations on ECC

26 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Rules about distance contract Quite similar to those of Electronic Commerce Directive (article 4) Information to be given to the consumer before concluding the contract : (a) the identity of the supplier and, in the case of contracts requiring payment in advance, his address; (b) the main characteristics of the goods or services; (c) the price of the goods or services including all taxes; (d) delivery costs, where appropriate; (e) the arrangements for payment, delivery or performance; (f) the existence of a right of withdrawal; (g) the cost of using the means of distance communication, where it is calculated other than at the basic rate; (h) the period for which the offer or the price remains valid; (i) where appropriate, the minimum duration of the contract in the case of contracts for the supply of products or services to be performed permanently or recurrently. To be provided in a clear and comprehensible manner in any way appropriate to the means of distance communication used –example: general terms & conditions available on the internet site, to be accepted before confirming the order Prior information: Directive 1997/7/CE

27 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Rules about distance contract (a) the identity and the main business of the supplier, the geographical address at which the supplier is established and any other geographical address relevant for the customer's relations with the supplier; (b) the identity of the representative of the supplier established in the consumer's Member State of residence and the geographical address relevant for the customer's relations with the representative, if such a representative exists; (c) when the consumer's dealings are with any professional other than the supplier, the identity of this professional, the capacity in which he is acting vis-à-vis the consumer, and the geographical address relevant for the customer's relations with this professional; (d) where the supplier is registered in a trade or similar public register, the trade register in which the supplier is entered and his registration number or an equivalent means of identification in that register; (e) where the supplier's activity is subject to an authorisation scheme, the particulars of the relevant supervisory authority » Prior information: Dir. 2002/65/CE (contracts on distance in financial services) Information: –supplier –financial service –distance contract –redresses article 3: similar obligation, but more detailed

28 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Rules about distance contract ( a) a description of the main characteristics of the financial service; (b) the total price to be paid by the consumer to the supplier for the financial service, including all related fees, charges and expenses, and all taxes paid via the supplier or, when an exact price cannot be indicated, the basis for the calculation of the price enabling the consumer to verify it; (c) where relevant notice indicating that the financial service is related to instruments involving special risks related to their specific features or the operations to be executed or whose price depends on fluctuations in the financial markets outside the supplier's control and that historical performances are no indicators for future performances; (d)notice of the possibility that other taxes and/or costs may exist that are not paid via the supplier or imposed by him; (e)any limitations of the period for which the information provided is valid; (f)the arrangements for payment and for performance; (g)any specific additional cost for the consumer of using the means of distance communication, if such additional cost is charged (article 3 continued) Information: –supplier –financial service –distance contract –redresses

29 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Rules about distance contract (a)the existence or absence of a right of withdrawal in accordance with Article 6 and, where the right of withdrawal exists, its duration and the conditions for exercising it, including information on the amount which the consumer may be required to pay on the basis of Article 7(1), as well as the consequences of non-exercise of that right; (b)the minimum duration of the distance contract in the case of financial services to be performed permanently or recurrently; (c)information on any rights the parties may have to terminate the contract early or unilaterally by virtue of the terms of the distance contract, including any penalties imposed by the contract in such cases; (d)practical instructions for exercising the right of withdrawal indicating, inter alia, the address to which the notification of a withdrawal should be sent; (e)the Member State or States whose laws are taken by the supplier as a basis for the establishment of relations with the consumer prior to the conclusion of the distance contract; (f)any contractual clause on law applicable to the distance contract and/or on competent court; (g) in which language, or languages, the contractual terms and conditions, and the prior information referred to in this Article are supplied, and furthermore in which language, or languages, the supplier, with the agreement of the consumer, undertakes to communicate during the duration of this distance contract (article 3 continued) Information: –supplier –financial service –distance contract –redresses

30 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Rules about distance contract (a) whether or not there is an out-of-court complaint and redress mechanism for the consumer that is party to the distance contract and, if so, the methods for having access to it; (b) the existence of guarantee funds or other compensation arrangements. (article 3 continued) Information: –supplier –financial service –distance contract –redresses

31 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Rules about distance contract written confirmation or confirmation in another durable medium available and accessible to him in good time during the performance of the contract, –and at the latest at the time of delivery ; –unless the information has already been given to the consumer prior to conclusion of the contract in writing or on another durable medium available and accessible to him. In any event, information to be provided: written information on the conditions and procedures for exercising the right of withdrawal the geographical address of the place of business of the supplier to which the consumer may address any complaints, information on after-sales services and guarantees which exist, the conclusion for cancelling the contract, where it is of unspecified duration or a duration exceeding one year. Written confirmation of information article 5

32 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Rules about distance contract No definition in directive 97/7 Definition in Directive 2002/65 (article 2) : « durable medium means any instrument which enables the consumer to store information addressed personally to him in a way accessible for future reference for a period of time adequate for the purposes of the information and which allows the unchanged reproduction of the information stored» example : email issue: internet page on a webiste Specific rule under Belgian law : –Text regarding the absence or the existence of the right of withdrawal must be mentioned on the first page of the confirmation document in a specific box in bold characters. –No payment may be asked until the end of the period of time for the right of withdrawal Written confirmation of information

33 @ Rules about distance contract Article 6 directive 97/7 Duration: at least 7 working days –For the goods: as from the day of delivery –For the services : as from the day of conclusion of the agreement –Absence of information : 3 months No penalty No reason needed Sole costs : directs costs for sending the goods back Reimbursement within 30 days. AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Right of withdrawal

34 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Rules about distance contract Exceptions: –for the provision of services if performance has begun, with the consumer's agreement, before the end of the seven working day period referred to in paragraph 1, –for the supply of goods or services the price of which is dependent on fluctuations in the financial market which cannot be controlled by the supplier, –for the supply of goods made to the consumer's specifications or clearly personalized or which, by reason of their nature, cannot be returned or are liable to deteriorate or expire rapidly, example: downloads –for the supply of audio or video recordings or computer software which were unsealed by the consumer, –for the supply of newspapers, periodicals and magazines, –for gaming and lottery services. Directive « financial services»: – similar provisions – duration: 14 or 30 days Right of Withdrawal

35 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Rules about distance contract Article 3 Directive 97/7 Accomodation, transportation, recreation contracts –But a similar obligtion to inform the consumer exists under the Directive regarding package travels. Auctions Exceptions Article 7 Directive 97/7 Maximum term: 30 days –Not mandatory Sanction : reimbursement within 30 days. Performance

36 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Contents 1.Regulatory instruments: regulations and directives 2.Europe: minimum level' / partial harmonisation 3.Specific status for the ECC? 4.Validity, form, proof and signature of the ECC 5.Application of « distance contract » rules 6.Other general rules 7.IPL regulations on ECC

37 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Other general rules Price Indication Directive 98/6/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 on consumer protection in the indication of the prices of products offered to consumers: –The price must be mentioned « VAT and all taxes included»

38 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Other general rules Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts General Principles (article 3) : 1.Une clause dun contrat nayant pas fait lobjet dune négociation individuelle est considérée comme abusive lorsque, en dépit de lexigence de bonne foi, elle crée au détriment du consommateur un déséquilibre significatif entre les droits et obligations des parties découlant du contrat. 2.Une clause est toujours considérée comme nayant pas fait lobjet dune négociation individuelle lorsquelle a été rédigée préalablement et que le consommateur na, de ce fait, pas pu avoir dinfluence sur son contenu, notamment dans le cadre dun contrat dadhésion. 3.Si le professionnel prétend quune clause standardisée a fait lobjet dune négociation individuelle, la charge de la preuve lui incombe. Principe regarding interpretation : in favor of the consumer –Article 5: « … En cas de doute sur le sens d'une clause, l'interprétation la plus favorable au consommateur prévaut » Annex with list (indicatory and only exemplative): Unfair terms

39 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Other general rules –d'exclure ou de limiter la responsabilité légale du professionnel en cas de mort d'un consommateur ou de dommages corporels causés à celui-ci, résultant d'un acte ou d'une omission de ce professionnel; –d'exclure ou de limiter de façon inappropriée les droits légaux du consommateur vis-à-vis du professionnel ou d'une autre partie en cas de non-exécution totale ou partielle ou d'exécution défectueuse par le professionnel d'une quelconque des obligations contractuelles, y compris la possibilité de compenser une dette envers le professionnel avec une créance qu'il aurait contre lui; –de prévoir un engagement ferme du consommateur, alors que l'exécution des prestations du professionnel est assujettie à une condition dont la réalisation dépend de sa seule volonté; –de permettre au professionnel de retenir des sommes versées par le consommateur lorsque celui- ci renonce à conclure ou à exécuter le contrat, sans prévoir le droit, pour le consommateur, de percevoir une indemnité d'un montant équivalent de la part du professionnel lorsque c'est celui-ci qui renonce; –d'imposer au consommateur qui n'exécute pas ses obligations une indemnité d'un montant disproportionnellement élevé; –d'autoriser le professionnel à résilier le contrat de façon discrétionnaire si la même faculté n'est pas reconnue au consommateur, ainsi que de permettre au professionnel de retenir les sommes versées au titre de prestations non encore réalisées par lui, lorsque c'est le professionnel lui-même qui résilie le contrat; –d'autoriser le professionnel à mettre fin sans un préavis raisonnable à un contrat à durée indéterminée, sauf en cas de motif grave; –de proroger automatiquement un contrat à durée déterminée en l'absence d'expression contraire du consommateur, alors qu'une date excessivement éloignée de la fin du contrat a été fixée comme date limite pour exprimer cette volonté de non-prorogation de la part du consommateur; (...)

40 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Other general rules –constater de manière irréfragable l'adhésion du consommateur à des clauses dont il n'a pas eu, effectivement, l'occasion de prendre connaissance avant la conclusion du contrat; –d'autoriser le professionnel à modifier unilatéralement les termes du contrat sans raison valable et spécifiée dans le contrat; –d'autoriser les professionnels à modifier unilatéralement sans raison valable des caractéristiques du produit à livrer ou du service à fournir; –de prévoir que le prix des biens est déterminé au moment de la livraison, ou d'accorder au vendeur de biens ou au fournisseur de services le droit d'augmenter leurs prix, sans que, dans les deux cas, le consommateur n'ait de droit correspondant lui permettant de rompre le contrat au cas où le prix final est trop élevé par rapport au prix convenu lors de la conclusion du contrat; –d'accorder au professionnel le droit de déterminer si la chose livrée ou le service fourni est conforme aux stipulations du contrat ou de lui conférer le droit exclusif d'interpréter une quelconque clause du contrat; –de restreindre l'obligation du professionnel de respecter les engagements pris par ses mandataires ou de soumettre ses engagements au respect d'une formalité particulière; –d'obliger le consommateur à exécuter ses obligations lors même que le professionnel n'exécuterait pas les siennes; –de prévoir la possibilité de cession du contrat de la part du professionnel, lorsqu'elle est susceptible d'engendrer une diminution des garanties pour le consommateur sans l'accord de celui-ci; –de supprimer ou d'entraver l'exercice d'actions en justice ou des voies de recours par le consommateur, notamment en obligeant le consommateur à saisir exclusivement une juridiction d'arbitrage non couverte par des dispositions légales, en limitant indûment les moyens de preuves à la disposition du consommateur ou en imposant à celui-ci une charge de preuve qui, en vertu du droit applicable, devrait revenir normalement à une autre partie au contrat. (...)

41 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Other general rules Directive 1999/44/EC of 25 May 1994 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees –Sales agreements –Rules regarding: The conformity of the delivered product (article 2), The duration of the guarantee and the limitation in time to file a claim (article 6) The recourses (article 3) Sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees

42 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Other general rules Directive 2005/29/CE of 11 May 2005 concerning unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices in the internal market («Unfair Commercial Practices Directive») Specific rule regarding the digital world:: –Prohibition of unsolicited and repeated promotional messages, a.o. via e-mail; Annex I Directive 2005/29, point 26). Observations : –Directive 97/7/CE : opt-out (article 10.2). –Directive 2000/31/CE : opt-out (article 7.2.). –Directive 2002/58/CE : opt-in (article 13) (Opt out for direct marketing towards clients – for similar products) –Belgium : opt-in Unfair commercial practices

43 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Other general rules Directive 98/27/EC of 19 May 1998 on injunctions for the protection of consumers' interests. –Consumers organizations (and other organizations) are entitled to start proceedings in order to obtain a cease and desist order in case of non- compliance with the provisions laid down in the directives regarding consumer protection. Cease and desist orders

44 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Contents 1.Regulatory instruments: regulations and directives 2.Europe: minimum level' / partial harmonisation 3.Specific status for the ECC? 4.Validity, form, proof and signature of the ECC 5.Application of « distance contract » rules 6.Other general rules 7.IPL regulations on ECC

45 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners IPL regulations on ECCs Regulation 593/2008 of 17 June 2008. on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) Article 6 – Contracts with consumers 1. Without prejudice to Articles 5 and 7, a contract concluded by a natural person for a purpose which can be regarded as being outside his trade or profession (the consumer) with another person acting in the exercise of his trade or profession (the professional) shall be governed by the law of the country where the consumer has his habitual residence, provided that the professional: (a) pursues his commercial or professional activities in the country where the consumer has his habitual residence, or (b) by any means, directs such activities to that country or to several countries including that country, and the contract falls within the scope of such activities. 2. Notwithstanding paragraph 1, the parties may choose the law applicable to a contract which fulfils the requirements of paragraph 1. Such a choice may not, however, have the result of depriving the consumer of the protection afforded to him by provisions that cannot be derogated from by agreement by virtue of the law which, in the absence of choice, would have been applicable on the basis of paragraph 1 » Applicable law

46 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners IPL regulations on ECCs Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters Article 15 In matters relating to a contract concluded by a person, the consumer, for a purpose which can be regarded as being outside his trade or profession, jurisdiction shall be determined by this Section, if: (a) it is a contract for the sale of goods on instalment credit terms; or (b) it is a contract for a loan repayable by instalments, or for any other form of credit, made to finance the sale of goods; or (c) in all other cases, the contract has been concluded with a person who pursues commercial or professional activities in the Member State of the consumer's domicile or, by any means, directs such activities to that Member State or to several States including that Member State, and the contract falls within the scope of such activities. (…) 3. This Section shall not apply to a contract of transport other than a contract which, for an inclusive price, provides for a combination of travel and accommodation.. Power of jurisdiction

47 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners IPL regulations on ECCs Article 16 1. A consumer may bring proceedings against the other party to a contract either in the courts of the Member State in which that party is domiciled or in the courts for the place where the consumer is domiciled. 2. Proceedings may be brought against a consumer by the other party to the contract only in the courts of the Member State in which the consumer is domiciled (…) Article 17: The provisions of this Section may be departed from only by an agreement: 1. which is entered into after the dispute has arisen; or 2. which allows the consumer to bring proceedings in courts other than those indicated in this Section; or 3. which is entered into by the consumer and the other party to the contract, both of whom are at the time of conclusion of the contract domiciled or habitually resident in the same Member State, and which confers jurisdiction on the courts of that Member State, provided that such an agreement is not contrary to the law of that Member State.

48 @ AIJA Montréal – 2 & 3 octobre 2008 Olivier Sasserath / Marx, Van Ranst, Vermeersch & Partners Olivier SASSERATH Marx Van Ranst Vermeersch & Partners Avenue de Tervuren 270 1150 Bruxelles BELGIQUE 0032 2 285 01 00 0032 2 230 33 39 www.mvvp.be


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