Estonia: New Rules for Off-premises Contracts and Distance Contracts
A change in the law adopting the EU Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU) enables higher consumer protection levels.
Firstly, the changes impose a much wider obligation on traders to provide information about goods or services to consumers before finalizing a contract. In addition, traders must now deliver a signed contract, a copy or simple confirmation of the contract on paper or, if the consumer agrees, in another durable medium (e.g. as an e-mail) to the consumer.
Another important change regarding distance contracts by telephone is that the trader must confirm the offer in a durable medium to the consumer, who is bound only after confirming consent in a format which can be reproduced in writing. This means that in the future contracts cannot be made only over the phone without an exchange of relevant documents between the parties.
Model withdrawal forms and guidelines will be established, simplifying the withdrawal process and bringing legal certainty for both parties. If the consumer fills in a withdrawal form on the trader’s website, the trader must promptly acknowledge receipt (e.g. by e-mail).
Before the consumer is bound by the contract, the trader must obtain the express consent of the consumer to any extra payment in addition to the remuneration agreed upon for the trader’s main contractual obligation. If the trader fails to obtain consent but infers it by using default options which the consumer is required to reject in order to avoid the additional payment, the consumer can claim reimbursement of that payment.
The number of obligations imposed on businesses increases, which may result in the need for businesses to go over their current practices and undertake one-time adjustments to implement the changes. However, the expected extent of economic impact is not very large. At the same time model withdrawal forms and guidelines make it easier to fulfil the obligation to inform the consumer.
The legal changes come into force on 13 June 2014.
Source: State Gazette, RT I, 31.12.2013, 1