The European Directive on Consumer Rights (Directive 2011/83/EU) (the Directive) is due for implementation into national law in Member States by 13 December 2013. However, the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation (the Minister) has moved to bring in early implementation in Ireland of certain provisions, in the interests of consumers here.

The Minister has published a consultation paper consisting of 16 questions, seeking comments on the implementation of provisions relating to excessive payment charges (Article 19) and pre-ticked payment boxes (Article 22). Both provisions are maximum harmonisation measures and, as such, the consultation is limited to issues of scope and enforcement.

The Consultation period runs until 12 October and legislation is expected in the coming months to bring these measures into force.

Provisions on excessive payment charges

Article 19 of the Directive states that Member States must prohibit traders from charging consumers in respect of the use of a given means of payment, fees that exceed the cost borne by the trader for the use of that means. As the Consultation Paper mentions, payment and payment-related fees are not widespread in Ireland but they are common in a number of sectors, mainly passenger travel, package holidays, and tickets for entertainment and other events.  

Provisions on consent and pre-ticked boxes

Article 22 of the Directive targets hidden charges by providing that before a consumer is bound by a contract or offer, the trader must seek the express consent of the consumer to any extra payment in addition to the cost agreed upon for the trader’s main contractual obligation. It goes on to say that if the trader has not obtained the consumer’s express consent but has inferred it by using default options (pre-ticked boxes) which the consumer is required to reject to avoid extra payments, the consumer must be reimbursed this amount.

10 most important changes for consumers in the new Directive

  1. The Directive will eliminate hidden charges and costs on the Internet
  2. Increased price transparency
  3. Banning pre-ticked boxes on websites
  4. 14 Days to change your mind on a purchase
  5. Better refund rights
  6. Introduction of an EU-wide model withdrawal form
  7. Eliminating surcharges for the use of credit cards and hotlines
  8. Clearer information on who pays for returning goods
  9. Better consumer protection in relation to digital products
  10. Common rules for businesses will make it easier for them to trade all over Europe.

Consultation paper

For more information please contact Sinead Kelly at +353 1 6492945 or skelly@algoodbody.com.