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Rules on contracts for the sale of goods between sellers and consumers

Rules on contracts for the sale of goods between sellers and consumers

 

SUMMARY OF:

Directive (EU) 2019/771 on certain aspects concerning contracts for the sale of goods

WHAT IS THE AIM OF THE DIRECTIVE?

It aims to ensure proper functioning of the internal market, while providing consumers with a high level of protection. It does so by laying down certain common rules on sales contracts between sellers and consumers.

These cover:

  • conformity of goods with the contract;
  • remedies if there is no conformity;
  • ways to exercise these remedies;
  • commercial guarantees.

KEY POINTS

The legislation applies to sales contracts* between a consumer and a seller for the supply of goods*.

The legislation does not apply to:

  • the supply of digital content* or digital services*, unless these are incorporated or inter-connected with the goods themselves, necessary for them to perform their functions and provided under the sales contract (goods with digital elements);
  • any physical medium used exclusively to carry digital content (e.g. CDs, DVDs, etc.).

Sellers must ensure goods delivered to the consumer conform with the sales contract by:

  • complying with what was contractually agreed, e.g. fit the description, type, quantity, quality and possessing the features required by the contract, being fit for the agreed purposes etc.; and
  • complying with objective conformity criteria, i.e.
    • be fit for the purposes for which similar goods are normally used
    • correspond to the sample or model shown to the consumer
    • be delivered with the accessories, instructions and packaging that the consumer can reasonably expect and
    • possess the qualities and features that the consumer may reasonably expect.

Sellers are liable for any lack of conformity which becomes apparent within 2 years of delivery. During the first year, the consumer does not have to prove that the defect existed at the time of delivery.

For goods with digital elements:

  • sellers must inform and supply the consumer with all updates needed to keep them in conformity for the duration that the consumer may reasonably expect, unless the digital element of the goods is supplied continuously, in which case updates should be provided throughout the period of supply;
  • sellers are liable for any lack of conformity which becomes apparent within 2 years of delivery, unless the digital element is to be supplied continuously for a longer period, in which case the seller is liable throughout the period of supply.

If goods are defective (‘lack of conformity’), consumers are entitled to the following remedies:

  • choice between repair and replacement of the goods, free of charge, within a reasonable time and without any major inconvenience. The seller can give the alternative remedy if the one chosen is impossible or involves disproportionate costs for the seller;
  • a proportionate reduction in price;
  • termination of the contract, except if the defect is only minor.

Commercial guarantees:

  • are binding on the guarantor under the conditions laid down in the guarantee statement and associated advertising, whichever is more advantageous to the consumer;
  • must be provided to the consumer in plain, intelligible language and a way that it is accessible for future reference;
  • include:
    • confirmation the consumer is entitled by law to remedies from the seller for any defects free of charge
    • name and address of the guarantor
    • the procedure for implementing, and the terms of, the guarantee.

EU COUNTRIES MAY:

  • exclude from the legislation second-hand goods sold at public auction, and live animals;
  • regulate aspects of general contract law or the right to damages where these are not covered by the directive;
  • allow consumers to choose a specific remedy if the goods’ lack of conformity becomes apparent within 30 days of delivery, or maintain specific rules on guarantees for hidden defects.

EU countries:

  • must not apply measures, including more or less stringent consumer protection provisions, different from those in the directive;
  • are allowed to apply longer time limits for seller liability than those in the directive;
  • may stipulate that to benefit from consumer rights the customer must inform the seller within 2 months of detecting the defect;
  • ensure adequate and effective means exist to ensure compliance with the legislation;
  • inform consumers of their rights under the directive and how these may be enforced;
  • adopt and publish the measures set out in the legislation by 1 July 2021.

The European Commission submits a report to the European Parliament, the Council and the European Economic and Social Committee by 12 June 2024 on implementation of the directive.

Repeal

Directive (EU) 2019/771 repeals and replaces Directive 1999/44/EC (Consumer Sales and Guarantees Directive — CSGD) as of 1 January 2022.

FROM WHEN DOES THE DIRECTIVE APPLY?

EU countries have to apply the rules from 1 January 2022.

BACKGROUND

  • The directive aims to strike a balance between a high level of consumer protection and increased business competitiveness, while respecting the principle of subsidiarity. It forms part of the digital single market strategy which provides a wide-ranging framework to encourage integration of the digital dimension into the internal market.
  • The legislation complements Directive (EU) 2019/770 which lays down rules on the supply of digital content and digital services, including digital content supplied on a physical medium (such as DVDs, CDs, USB sticks and memory cards).
  • For more information, see:

KEY TERMS

Sales contract: a contract where the seller transfers ownership of goods to a consumer in exchange for a price.
Goods:
  • any physical movable items, including water, gas and electricity when sold in a limited volume or a set quantity;
  • any physical movable items that incorporate or are inter-connected with digital content or a digital service in such a way that the absence of that digital content or digital service would prevent the goods from performing their functions (‘goods with digital elements’).
Digital content: data produced and supplied in digital form.
Digital service:
  • a service that allows the consumer to create, process, store or access data in digital form, or
  • a service that allows the sharing of or other interaction with data in digital form uploaded or created by the consumer or other users of that service.

MAIN DOCUMENT

Directive (EU) 2019/771 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2019 on certain aspects concerning contracts for the sale of goods, amending Regulation (EU) 2017/2394 and Directive 2009/22/EC, and repealing Directive 1999/44/EC (OJ L 136, 22.5.2019, pp. 28-50)

RELATED DOCUMENTS

Directive (EU) 2019/770 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2019 on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services (OJ L 136, 22.5.2019, pp. 1-27)

Regulation (EU) 2017/1128 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 14 June 2017 on cross-border portability of online content services in the internal market (OJ L 168, 30.6.2017, pp. 1-11)

Successive amendments to Regulation (EU) 2017/1128 have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees (OJ L 171, 7.7.1999, pp. 12-16)

See consolidated version.

last update 10.09.2019

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