The Court of Appeal in Warsaw has recently rendered a judgment regarding actions taken by consumers against companies by way of the so-called abstract control of standard contract forms. The ruling was issued in a case where a consumer sued a bank, challenging part of a standard contract form which established the fees for actions taken by the bank in the case of a delay in the repayment of a loan (for example: a reminder letter or a phone reminder).
The Court of Appeals dismissed the consumer’s appeal, sharing the position of the first instance court which dismissed the consumer’s complaint against the bank. The Court of Appeals drew attention to the fact that the consumer identified the challenged part of the standard form too narrowly. The consumer challenged only certain points of the schedule included in the standard form which established the fees. At the same time, the consumer did not challenge other parts of the standard form, which indicated who and under what conditions is obliged to pay the fees.
The Court of Appeals found that the part of the standard from indicated by the consumer is too laconic and does not independently specify the rights and obligations of the consumer. The consumer questioned only the fees without the sections of the standard contract form which specified under what circumstances the fees could be charged to a consumer. By doing this the consumer did not allow the court to review the full mechanism concerning the fees (the scope of the review is limited by the consumer’s complaint).
The Court of Appeals explained that a judgment given in relation to an abstract control of standard contractual provisions cannot challenge a provision which independently does not determine the rights and obligations of consumers and its meaning depends on other provisions which have not been indicated by the consumer.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is an important guideline on how to formulate lawsuits challenging standard contract provisions. Conclusions arising from the judgment are also useful for businesses, who may use the ruling as an additional argument in disputes with consumers who formulate their claims inaccurately.