In one of its latest decisions the Higher Regional Court of Linz (Austria) ruled that vouchers are generally valid for 30 years.

The practice of limiting a grocery store’s voucher card to a validity period of three years has been declared invalid by the Higher Regional Court of Linz. The Association for Consumer Information (“VKI”) sued a supermarket on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs, resulting in a legally binding verdict by the Higher Regional Court.

"In principle, the right to purchase goods with a voucher expires after 30 years. For a shorter validity period of the voucher, a sufficient objective reason must be present. The shorter the expiration period is, the more valid this justification must be", explained the responsible VKI lawyer. The supermarket justified the three-year time limit with safety concerns, which the court did not accept as sufficient justification. The court also could not identify any other justified reason for the given time limit.

The supermarket stated that following an out-of-court warning from the VKI, the supermarket’s cash register systems had been converted in such a way that expired gift cards could also be redeemed. The Higher Regional Court objected, asserting that it cannot be assumed that all customers with expired vouchers would try to redeem them.