The EU E-commerce Directive has been implemented in Austria by a new act. The E-commerce Act provides a comprehensive legal framework for business-to-consumer and business-to-business transactions.

The act implements the basic principles of the EU directive for executing contracts electronically, such as:

  • the information to be provided to the customer;
  • the technical means to recognize and correct data entry mistakes prior to submitting an electronic order;
  • the immediate electronic confirmation of orders received; and
  • access to contract terms and conditions.

The act provides that if the vendor fails to fulfil any of these requirements, the contract will remain valid but the vendor will be subject to a fine of up to €3,000.

However, the Austrian act differs from the EU directive in one important area. While Article 9 of the directive demands that member states allow all contracts to be concluded by electronic means, the act precludes certain contracts (eg, lending and deposit contracts) from being concluded electronically. Nevertheless, Austrian law may be amended in the future to enable full compliance with the directive.

At the time that the act came into force, only 6% of Austrian online vendors were fulfilling its requirements, according to a study by Deloitte & Touche. Strict enforcement of the new law may therefore result in a deluge of fines in the coming months.

For further information on this topic please contact Dieter Hauck or Barbara Kurz at Preslmayr & Partners by telephone (+431 533 16 95) or by fax (+431 535 56 86) or by email ([email protected] or[email protected]).