On October 18, 2008, the European Court of Justice issued an interpretation of the E-commerce Directive that requires service providers on the Internet to give more than an email address for consumer enquiries. Article 5(1)(c) of the directive says that service providers must give "the details of the service provider, including his electronic mail address, which allow him to be contacted rapidly and communicated with in a direct and effective manner." A German consumer group (the Bundesverband) sued a German insurance company (deutsche internet versicherung AG or DIV) that operates on the web, arguing that it should give a telephone number in addition to its email. A German national appeal court sent a question of law to the ECJ, leading to the ECJ ruling in Bundesverband v. DIV.
The ECJ found that "[o]ffering the recipients of the service an additional non-electronic means of communication where necessary cannot be regarded as a heavy financial burden for service providers which offer their services on the internet". The ECJ also theorized that consumers might be without electronic connections at times and thus out of contact with the service provider. The decision does not necessarily require the provision of telephone numbers, but does require some approach other than just email addresses to provide communication in a "direct and effective manner". The European Commission supported DIV in the proceeding and argued against the Bundesverband's position, saying that email response alone was sufficient, especially as records show that DIV responded typically within 30 to 60 minutes.