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Guarantees for consumer goods and after-sales services (Green Paper)

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1) OBJECTIVE

To ensure equitable conditions for cross-border purchases by consumers by triggering a debate on guarantees for consumer goods and after-sales services.

2) COMMUNITY MEASURE

Commission Green Paper of 15 November 1993 on guarantees for consumer goods and after-sales services.

3) CONTENTS

The Green Paper studies the problems facing consumers with regard to legal and commercial guarantees and after-sales services when making cross-border purchases of goods.

The Green Paper sets out the following definitions:

  • "legal guarantee" is the traditional protection existing under all national legal systems and in accordance with which the vendor is held liable vis-à-vis the purchaser for defects in the products sold;
  • "commercial guarantee" covers additional features offered optionally by the vendor.

National legal rules are analysed with regard to legal and commercial guarantees and after-sales service. The legal basis, the persons honouring and beneficiaries of a guarantee, the guarantee periods and time limits for action and the burden of proof are compared country by country.

With regard to after-sales services, the Green Paper restricts the scope of its investigations to the supply of spare parts.

The Green Paper summarises Community law in this field and points out the major legal difficulties arising in the context of the Single Market:

  • national legal systems are varied. It is therefore not easy to determine which law is applicable to matters of legal guarantees, and consumers tend to be unaware of legal provisions in other countries;
  • the conditions governing commercial guarantees, which also vary between countries, come up against the absence of a general legal framework. It is difficult for consumers to determine the actual scope of their rights and the practical conditions for exercising them although, in general, only the guarantee in force in the consumer's country applies.

The Commission is launching a debate in order to overcome the difficulties raised.

It suggests adapting the rules of Private International Law or harmonising national legislation, with its preference being for the latter. The Commission is developing the idea of harmonisation restricted to the specific elements of consumer protection.

With this in mind, the legal guarantee is the subject of a search for a harmonised system based on an objective criterion (consumer goods) rather than a subjective one (quality of the contracting parties).

With regard to the commercial guarantee, the summary of problems arising from differing commercial practices makes a case for establishing a European legal framework and a European guarantee. The Green Paper dwells at length on these two points.

4) DEADLINE FOR IMPLEMENTATION OF THE LEGISLATION IN THE MEMBER STATES

5) DATE OF ENTRY INTO FORCE (if different from the above)

6) REFERENCES

COM(93) 509 final
Official Journal C 338, 15.12.1993

7) FOLLOW-UP WORK

8) COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING MEASURES

 
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