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Archive for June, 2011

Parliament supports the optional Europe-wide contract law

June 09, 2011 By: S.Clerc-Renaud Category: Contract Law, DCFR

The European Parliament backs the optional EU Contract law for b2c proposed by the EU’s Justice Commissioner (and European Commission Vice-President) Viviane Reding. Are all stakeholders and specialists from the legal traditions aware of the potential implications of such an optional law on the level of consumer protection for EU citizens? There needs to be more consultation, research and investigation on what bringing more coherence to contract law in Europe will mean for consumers. The press release stresses only “transaction costs (like adapting contractual terms and commercial policies or obtaining translation of the rules) and legal uncertainty”, but there is no mention of any impact assessment on potential outcomes for consumers when these decide to give up their national protection provisions in favour of the more business-friendly Law. Groups of academics and legal professionals, such as the EuSoCo Group want to look at the possibilities for this Optional Law to take account of more than just the transactional aspects of contracts.  Read press release below: (more…)

EU Contract law – EU Consumer association BEUC says MEPs are on the wrong track

June 07, 2011 By: S.Clerc-Renaud Category: Contract Law

BEUC Press release 6 June 2011

EU Contract law – MEPs on the wrong track

The European Parliament votes this week Wednesday 8 on a report by MEP Diana Wallis (UK) supporting the European Commission’s proposal for a European contract law system.
The future European ‘Optional Instrument’ or ’28th Regime’1, aims to establish a separate European system for contract law, as distinct from national law, which would govern day to day consumer contracts. Major concerns are held not only by consumer organisations, but by many stakeholders ranging from SMEs, major business representatives, to national law societies.
Fundamental flaws in the concept of an Optional Instrument for b2c contracts2 include the following:

  • The Commission’s own EU-wide statistics found 79% of traders say the same legal rules across the EU would make little or no difference to boosting their cross border trade.
  • ‘Optional’ is not at all accurate: the business decides whether to use it or not, thereby deciding on the level of protection that the consumer would benefit from and putting the consumer in a ‘take it or leave it’ situation.
  • This instrument would create more complexity and daily confusion instead of more confidence and legal certainty not only for consumers but also for SMEs. It is unrealistic for consumers to make an informed choice between two legal systems (national and EU).

Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumers’ Organisation (BEUC) commented:
“Vice President Reding’s ambition runs contrary to what consumers and SMEs want and expect the Commission to do to promote e-commerce. Instead, she pushes for high flying academic ideas which will not provide practical benefits to European citizens and contradict the Commission’s own statistics.”
“The stakeholders most concerned by this initiative, European consumers, SMEs and legal practitioners are aligned against it and have written jointly to MEPs asking them not to support it. An Optional Instrument will not help facilitating b2c cross-border transactions, but instead complicate them; in addition there is a clear risk that consumer protection standards will be weakened in many Member States.”