OUT-LAW.COM reports that the EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Viviane Reding is planning to introduce a European Contract Law to govern cross-border distance selling.
According to Ms. Reding, such laws “would exist in parallel to the national contract laws and provide standard terms and conditions”. Also, she added “another possibility is to harmonise different contract laws that would give a high level of consumer protection"[…]"what's important is legal certainty. Businesses must know what the law is if they operate across the 27-nation EU".
Big steps in the harmonisation of laws applicable in cross-border transactions have been already performed by the European Union during the last years. Taking as an example online contracts, which are a typical cross-border transaction, consumers will be able to rely on the minimum guarantees prescribed by the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Directive, the Distance Selling Directive, the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees Directive, the E-Commerce Directive and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.
These EU Directives ensure to European consumers that if – for instance - they buy some goods on a website run by a company based in another EU Member State they can be sure to be entitled to cancel the agreement without any penalty and without giving any reason during the so called cooling off period, they will be able to rely on a two years guarantee and they can be sure that unfair clauses will not be enforceable against them.
Despite the level of harmonization currently reached within the EU, there are still discrepancies in the implementation of the EU Directives and especially between the UK, which is a common law country, and the rest of the EU countries that has adopted a civil law system.
I would like to know your view on the above. Just post a comment on this blog or drop an email to me, Giulio Coraggio.