Presentation on theme: "European consumer Day EESC 13/03/2009 Right of withdrawal in distance and off-premisses contracts Nuria Rodríguez Senior Legal Officer."— Presentation transcript:
European consumer Day EESC 13/03/2009 Right of withdrawal in distance and off-premisses contracts Nuria Rodríguez Senior Legal Officer
Setting the ground The new proposal is based on the principle of full harmonisation The right of withdrawal is a crucial element of consumer protection As such its exercise has to be facilitated The minimum solutions do not fit in a fully harmonised scenario
Starting point of the right of withdrawal (article 12) Not addressed in the questions of the Green Paper! The proposal differentiates distance selling and off premises = simplification not achieved. Still incoherence with other directives (timeshare, credit) In case of purchase of goods the rule should be unified for both distance and off-premises, as in DCFR (moment of receipt of the good). The proposed rule for off-premises is not satisfactory (the period could finalise before the contract is actually concluded!) A more coherent, simple and consumer friendly solution has to be found. The starting point has to be linked with the right of the consumer to be informed of this right: the right of withdrawal should only start when all relevant information has been provided and the goods have been delivered (option taken in the timeshare and credit directives).
Consequences of omission of information on the right of withdrawal (article 13) Existing directives are more protective: failure to provide (any of) the information requirements entails an extension of the cooling-off-period (distance selling, distance marketing financial services, credit directive,) The extra three months in the existing directives are inadequate in a full harmonisation context :longer periods are foreseen in recent legislation (credit directive, timeshare) or in the DCFR (1 year) The proposal combines the worst existing solutions (the three months in distance selling with the thinking in the Hamilton case –period ends if both parties have performed their obligations- ignoring the Heininger case ( cooling off only starts when the consumer has been informed of his right of w.) Most MS do not follow the Hamilton model. Even if the parties have performed their obligations it still makes sense to withdraw. The solution of the proposal encourages the trader to quickly perform the contract (at excessive prices?) and bind the consumer even if he is not informed of the right of w.
An effective right of withdrawal Consumers should not be discouraged from exercising this right: - 19 MS have no formalities for distance selling); returning the good suffices (DCFR) - The difficulties of reimbursement to be avoided: ban on payment before the end of the cooling-off period (ECJ Santurel/Gysbrechts 16/12/08) - Information on the non-existence of the right of withdrawal (BE, FI, FR, DE, IT, SL, ES). - Dispatch principle is welcome (article 12.2)
Exemptions from the right of withdrawal 1.Fairs and market stalls The consumer is not given a right of withdrawal when buying at fairs or market stalls (off-premises) despite that: - the consumer is often caught off guards - the pressure element is present (in the street, once a year, unique opportunity…) - Samples displayed may not match the goods eventually sent to the consumer The Commission consultation revealed that (all?) consumer organisations agreed to the extension of the right of withdrawal.
Exemptions from the right of withdrawal 1. Internet Auctions The right of withdrawal does not apply if the contract is concluded through an Internet auction platform despite that the pre-conditions to apply the right of withdrawal are met: - contract at a distance - the consumer cannot see/inspect the good before hand - the identity of the seller is not known until the transaction is concluded. 10 MS will have to abolish the right of w. for consumers when purchasing through an on line auction platform
Conclusion A high level of consumer protection? A few novelties are welcomed (14 days, off-premises contracts upgraded, solicited visits covered) A great number of existing rules have been worsened compared to the existing directives A higher level of consumer protection is observed in many member states in many cases Some solutions adopted in the DCFR provide for a higher level of consumer protection (i.e. no formalities, up to 1 year duration, reimbursement without undue delay) The maintained exceptions to the right of withdrawal need to be rechecked Coherence/simplification remains an issue due to (new) divergences with other directives (e.g. credit directive, timeshare directive, financial services)
Thank you for your attention! Looking forward to the debate