Modernisation of consumer law

In 2019, the European Legislator published a directive (Directive (EU) 2019/2161) that deals with the modernisation of consumer protection. This directive has now been incorporated into our national law and the new rules must be applied since the end of last month. The new rules apply in particular to online traders and providers of online marketplaces and aim to tighten various rules within the digital economy and provide consumers with clearer and fairer information. What are the most important changes?

Prohibition on fake reviews
Online providers of products must first check the authenticity of consumer reviews before they can be published as a review or recommendation. This law also prohibits fake consumer reviews being placed by someone else against payment. Sellers must also inform consumers whether, and if so how, they check whether reviews originate from consumers who have actually purchased the product.

Personalised offers
In addition, sellers must inform consumers whether a personalised price offer is made. This can be achieved, for example, by an algorithm tracking and analysing purchases and the search behaviour of a consumer.

Additional information obligation for online platforms
Consumers must be able to see whether they are making a purchase from the platform itself or from a third party active as a seller on the platform, so that consumers know whether or not they can invoke consumer law. In addition, the platform must let consumers know who is responsible for handling the sale. After all, consumers need to know who they can contact in case of problems and whether the platform or the seller will handle a return. Furthermore, information must be provided on the order of search results that consumers see on an online platform.

Free digital services
Providers of free digital services such as social media, whereby the consumer must provide personal data, must better inform consumers and provide information on, for example, the duration of the contract and how it can be terminated. Consumers will have the right to terminate the contract within fourteen days without reason, whereby the provider must terminate the processing of the personal data.

Reselling tickets
It will be permanently forbidden for merchants to resell to consumers tickets bought with special software to circumvent a limit on the maximum number of tickets.

2 offline measures
For offline commercial practices, there are two changes:
1. Presenting two products as identical while the products are actually different in quality is no longer allowed.
2. In addition, there are new rules for advertising with price reductions. In the case of so-called 'van voorprijzen' (from € 50 for € 25) only the lowest price applied during a period of at least 30 days prior to the price reduction may be used as the reference price. This prevents the price of a product from being increased for a short period of time and then the price reduction from being presented as a discount.

Compliance with rules
The Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets (ACM) will supervise compliance with the legislation.
It will cooperate with the European Commission in tracking down cross-border infringements. These supervisors can impose a fine of up to 4% of the annual turnover of the company that infringes the rules in several Member States.

Do you have any questions or need advice? Please contact one of our lawyers. We will be happy to assist you!

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