The effectiveness of consumer protection in private law

The effectiveness of consumer protection in private law

Consumer protection from the perspective of substantive law, conflict of laws (private international law) and procedural law is a topic that currently belongs among priority issues of the Directorate‑General for Justice, Consumers and Equality in the EU; besides, this topic is one of the two most important topics that are subject-matter of the upcoming International Congress of Comparative Law (Montevideo, November 2016). The research focuses on both general trends (reinforcement of legal certainty – substantive law, governing law, jurisdiction) and specific features of consumer protection in Czech law in terms of the implementation of directives (substantive law, dispute resolution – litigation, arbitration, etc.).

The project aspires to analyse the current concept of consumers and their position in law of obligations. From the point of view of civil law, a consumer is undoubtedly just one of possible weaker parties to an obligation; however, it is necessary that the term be redefined and its contours newly outlined with regard to both the recent recodification of private law and further development of the Union legislation. The proposal for a Common European Sales Law (CESL) has been withdrawn, however, at the same time the creation of a new concept of a Digital Contract is being contemplated, which raises questions regarding further impact on domestic regulation of consumer affairs, its stratification and overlapping. It is necessary to open a debate regarding the extent of desirable consumer protection anew. Ambivalence of the term ‘consumer’ is also reflected in relevant literature (in this regard differentiation between an active consumer and a passive consumer is made). A negative – and undesirable – consequence of exaggerated consumer protection is that it might happen that protection is given to consumer’s recklessness or irresponsibility. This observation is based on knowledge that when creating regulations concerning consumer protection, and more so when applying and interpreting them, it is necessary to have in view not only the protective purpose of relevant legal regulations, but at the same time seek that rights and obligations in a particular case are fair, i.e. reasonable, balanced and in particular proportionate, not one‑sidedly favouring, pro‑consumer approach. What is problematic is the assessment in cases when acts of a particular entity have mixed characteristics, i.e. they have the features of both consumer and entrepreneurial acts. Another disputable issue is whether a professional entering into a contract with another professional may be, under certain circumstances, protected as a consumer. The aim of this project is to analyse the indicated issues, as well as other issues connected therewith, in particular enforcement of consumer law and resolution of consumer disputes.

Selected outputs

  • Dvořák J., Švestka J., Zuklínová M. a kol. : Občanské právo hmotné (Civil Law, in Czech). Svazek 1. Díl první : Obecná část (General Part). Praha: Wolters Kluwer ČR, 2013, 432 p.

  • Švestka, J.; Dvořák, J.; Fiala, J. a kol. Občanský zákoník. Komentář (Civil Code. Commentary, in Czech). Vol.  I – VI. Praha: Wolters Kluwer ČR, 2014

  • Pauknerová, M., Skalská, H. Enforcement and Effectiveness of Consumer Law, Czech Republic (National Report for International Congress of Comparative Law 2016, manuscript, June 2016, 30 p.)

  • PAUKNEROVÁ, Monika, PFEIFFER, Magdalena. New Act on Private International Law in the Czech Republic: Starting Points and Perspectives within the European Union. Journal of Private International Law. Volume 10, Number 2, 2014, p. 205-226

  • PAUKNEROVÁ, Monika.  Defendants with unknown address, Essays in Honour of Michael Bogdan, Lund 2013, p. 411-424, ISBN 978-91-544-0563-3

  • RŮŽIČKA, Květoslav. Řešení sporů ze spotřebitelských smluv, soudní nebo rozhodčí řízení? (Consumer contracts disputes: litigation or arbitration?, in Czech), in Ondřej, J. a kol.: Spotřebitelské smlouvy a ochrana spotřebitele. Ekonomické, právní a sociální aspekty (Consumer contracts and consumer protection. Economic, legal and social aspects, in Czech). Praha : C.H.Beck, 2013, p. 159 - 196.

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