At the end of last year, Germany’s Federal Ministry of Justice published a draft law designed to implement the EU’s directive on consumer rights. We have published a number of articles on this topic. Now, Germany’s upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, has published recommendations for improvements.
The Bundesrat assessed numerous provisions including: the definition of distance contracts, the scope of exceptions to the right to withdraw from a contract, obligations to provide information in non-distance contracts and the provisions concerning active participation of consumers when requesting additional services.
The Bundesrat believes that proposed modifications to the Unfair Competition Act are inadequate. It is of the opinion that where a company exercises unfair practices it should be held strictly liable and the rules on confiscation of profits should apply regardless of culpability.
According to the Bundesrat the Pricing Display Regulations should also be modified in relation to distance contracts. Information should be given to consumers about the way in which additional costs are calculated (unless these costs are already visible in the end price). With this suggestion, the Bundesrat hopes to counter the reduction in protection for consumers.
Recommendations have also been made in the area of telephone advertising. Where a consumer expresses an intention over the telephone to enter into a contract, a trader should confirm the decision in written form within two weeks. Furthermore, the Bundesrat recommends that sellers should be placed under a duty to properly inform consumers of their statutory rights even where a consumer has exercised his rights under a manufacturer’s warranty.