Poland: New regulations on practices violating collective consumer interests involving financial products
On 17 April 2016 changes to competition and consumer protection law come into force. The new regulations prohibit practices violating collective consumer interests, labelled “misselling”. This term refers to proposing to consumers the purchase of financial services which do not meet their needs (e.g. sale of investment products to the elderly, who will not be able to benefit from them due to their age).
Additionally, the new rules prohibit offering the purchase of these services inappropriately to their character, e.g. sale of complex financial products over the phone.
An entrepreneur offering these services will have to take into account available information on the characteristics of target consumers, as well as adjust the method of offering those services for sale.
In the Polish market misselling mainly concerns the sale of financial and insurance products – life or endowment insurance in the form of investment products called “polisolokaty” (i.e. savings insurance policies).
The overall aim of the new regulation is to prevent situations in which the average consumer is not able to properly assess complex financial or insurance products.
In addition, the new regulations enable the issue of a so called interim decision by the Head of the Office for Competition and Consumer Protection (‘the Office’). The decision would require an entrepreneur to refrain from certain acts, despite ongoing proceedings. An appeal against the decision would not prevent it from being executed.
In order to ensure better monitoring of compliance with the new regulations, the institution of a mystery shopper has also been introduced in the shape of an employee of the Office, who would be able to undertake action aimed at acquiring products or services, including use of image and sound recording devices without prior warning.
As a consequence of the changes the need may arise to adjust product sale and distribution policies, or even to withdraw particularly risky products from the market. Another effect is that offering complex products should be targeted at properly selected consumers.
Source: Act of 5 August 2015 amending the Act on Competition and Consumer Protection, (J.L. 2015, item no. 1634)