The Judgment issued by the Regional Court of Seville No. 258/12010 dated September 17th, 2010, states the requirements and time-scale applied to remote Agreements. More specifically, concerning the case under discussion, the Judge of the Court of First Instance sustained the claim of the plaintiff, and considered valid the first remote agreement entered between the parties for the sale of 8 laptops for a price of 288€. This amount was the result of an erroneous price posted on the website of “El Corte Inglés”. In this Court of First Instance, the Judge dismissed the execution of a second sale agreement of 7 laptops due to the fact that the Claimant never received from the Offeror the automatic confirmation reply by e-mail.
“El Corte Inglés” appealed the Judgment issued by the Court of First Instance, as this party considered that there was no consent provision on their part by the sole acceptance of the website offer. The Claimant also appealed the Judgment requesting the execution of both Agreements.
Firstly, in regards to the acceptance of the Agreement the Court defined Remote Agreements -electronic agreements-, which is specified in paragraph h) of the Act 34/2002 July 11th of Electronic Commerce and Information Society Services (hereinafter LSSI as per its Spanish Acronyms):
“Every Agreement in which the proposal and the acceptance are transmitted by means of electronic equipment of data processing and storage which are connected to a telecommunications network”.
In the case under discussion, the offer was posted on the website of “El Corte Inglés” and the acceptance by the company was made by means of the available tools included in their own website intended for making purchase orders. It is worthy to take into account that these kind of remote Agreements are considered valid and in force without need of prior agreement between the parties in regards to the use of the mentioned automatic means. Therefore the significant requirement for the validity and effectiveness of a remote Agreement is the consent and agreement for the objet and price pursuant to Section 1450 of the Spanish Civil Code.
The Court established the difference between remote Agreements and those ordinary Agreements which are entered when both parties in the contract are not present in the signing act. In ordinary Agreements, the contract is considered accepted upon the consent and acceptance by the parties. Remote Agreements are enforceable upon the acceptance of the online offer of the Agreement pursuant to Section 1262 of Spanish Civil Code.
For such reason, Court of Appeal dismissed the arguments of “El Corte Inglés”. “El Corte Inglés” argued that a simple remote order cannot presume the acceptance of the Agreement because this is subject to a later acceptance on their part. In this case, as well as it happens with an ordinary sale Agreement, the Court considered that the acceptance is proven regardless the fact that the automatic replying e-mail with the reference purchase and delivery number from “El Corte Inglés” was not sent as it happened in the first order of 8 computers, thus, considering irrelevant whether the replying e-mail was sent or not to prove the acceptance of the Agreement. These kind of emails are just a mere procedure included in the Section 28 of the LSSI, as a formal requirement for acknowledging the receipt of the acceptance by the distributor. However, this obligation is subsequent to the improvement of the Agreement.
Anyway, the acceptance of the two different orders of 8 and 7 laptops, respectively, is confirmed when the client clicks in “buy” at the web site and therefore, it is irrelevant whether the Claimant has received and automatic confirmation email or not.
Secondly, the defendant argued an infringement of good faith requirements and abuse of rights, for trying to oblige “El Cortes Inglés” to execute both Agreement for the sale of 15 laptop for a price of 36 € per unit.
The Court states that is necessary to check the factual circumstances case-by-case. In cases of obvious mistakes with ridiculous prizes, the argument of the buyer shall not be accepted if his only purpose is to take advantage of the error.
However, The Court assumed that the rapid obsolescence of hardware, software and IT equipment leads to substantial prices reductions. This is why it is not considered proven that the buyer was conscious of the error and in addition the order of 15 equipments does not seem to be out of proportion so there was not any intention by the buyer to take advantage of an error. Furthermore, the Court states that the good faith is presumed and the bad faith must be proven which did not occur in this case.
Given all the reasons mentioned above, the appeal of “El Corte Inglés” was rejected, and the Court declared valid the contract for the sale of 15 laptops, and condemns the seller to deliver the equipment in consideration of the agreed price.