The Supreme Court of Lithuania establishes case law on the obligation to provide product instructions and safety information in Lithuanian.
In a case brought before the Court of Cassation, the claimant asserted that he was injured while using a scooter because the seller did not provide a user’s manual in Lithuanian.
The lower courts in the case held that the consumer had the opportunity to read the instructions in a foreign language and, acting as a careful person, if he saw that the user’s manual was not provided in a language which he understands, he was obliged to look for such information himself before using the product. However, he did not do so and, having decided to use the product without reading the user’s manual, he must also bear the risk of negative consequences.
The Supreme Court of Lithuania, in its ruling in the case on 13 October 2021, stated that in assessing whether a trader has properly fulfilled the duty of disclosure, the circumstances of provision of the user’s manual in a foreign language and knowledge by a specific user of that foreign language are irrelevant, as the standard to be applied is that of an average user and not that of a specific user. Providing information to the consumer in a language other than the official language — Lithuanian — is considered to be the same as not providing it at all.
Failure to provide certain information may lead not only to a breach of the duty to inform, but also to a breach of the duty to provide the consumer with a safe and high-quality product. Without such information, the consumer will not be able to use the product safely, i.e. to assess the risks inherent in the product and to take precautions to avoid those risks. Therefore, selling a product without providing the consumer with this information also constitutes sale of an unsafe product.
This case law of the Court of Cassation confirms that entrepreneurs selling goods in Lithuania have an obligation to provide consumers with instructions for use in Lithuanian. Otherwise, they may be held liable for damages to the buyer because the latter was sold an unsafe product.
Ruling of the Supreme Court of Lithuania of 13 October 2021 in civil case No 3K-3-246-1075/2021