On July 1 2000 new legislation on important consumer protection issues will become effective in Poland. These include:

  • door-to-door sales;

  • implementation of abusive clauses into consumer contracts;

  • liability for dangerous products; and

  • distance contracting.

All these issues will be regulated by one piece of legislation, the Law on the Protection of Certain Consumer Rights and on Dangerous Product Liability, which was passed on March 2 2000. The law is based upon and implements a number of EU directives. It defines a 'consumer' as a person who concludes an agreement with a professional for purposes which are not directly linked with its commercial activity.

The new law states that distance contracts may be concluded between a consumer and a professional without them both being present at the same time in the same place. It expressly covers electronic transactions. It gives consumers the right to withdraw from a contract within 10 days of receipt of the contracted goods - or, in the case of contracted services, of the date of the contract's conclusion - without having to give reasons for doing so.

The law protects consumers from credit card abuse by providing that unauthorized credit card payments may be invalidated by the card's owner. It also provides that a professional party to a distance contract has information obligations towards a consumer. The law also establishes the accessory character of a credit agreement which is linked with a main distance contract. Therefore, once a consumer withdraws from the main agreement any credit agreement is terminated as well. The law does not apply to a number of transactions, including e-banking.

The distance contracts regulations included in the new law may make e-commerce more difficult, but they reflect the level of consumer protection adopted in the European Union. The next legislative step should be to regulate electronic distance contracting by adoption of e-signature regulations, which will be introduced in the future.

For further information on this topic please contact Marek Rosinski at CMS Cameron McKenna by telephone (+48 22 520 5555) or by fax (+48 22 520 5556) or by e-mail ([email protected]).

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