On 11 April 2018, the European Commission adopted the New Deal for Consumers – a package composed of two proposals for Directives and a Communication.
The proposed Directives concern: (i) representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers, and the repeal of the Injunctions Directive; and (ii) amendments to the Unfair Contract Terms Directive, Price Indications Directive, Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumer Rights Directive.Whilst the first proposal is aimed at improving the tools to stop illegal practices and facilitate redress for consumers, the second is aimed at improving enforcement and modernising EU consumer legislation in light of market developments, particularly the digital economy.
The New Deal is intended to:
- Ensure consumers in all Member States have the right to individual remedies when they are affected by unfair commercial practices;
- Require that online marketplaces specify clearly whether a consumer is buying from a professional or a consumer and whether the purchaser is protected under consumer law;
- Enable Member States to adopt additional rules on unsolicited visits to a consumer's home on grounds of public policy or the protection of private life of consumers;
- Require that consumers be provided with clear information about the contract and be given a right of withdrawal in the case that consumers subscribe for free digital services which allow the trader to use the consumer's personal data;
- Ensure that national consumer organisations can lodge a representative action against a trader;
- Ensure that the Online Dispute Resolution Platform is more user-friendly and promote the platform among traders.
Moreover, the New Deal is also intended to protect traders against abusive use of the right of withdrawal, where this is applicable.It is expected that traders will no longer have an obligation to accept returned goods if the consumer has used them more than just to try them out, and traders will no longer have an obligation to reimburse consumers before receiving the goods back. There is also an expectation that information requirements will be able to be satisfied through informal and flexible means of communication as online forms or chats.
This document does not purport to give legal, financial or tax advice. Should you require further information or legal assistance, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Annalies Muscat.