Russia's Supreme Court has issued instructions to lower courts which enhance the protection of consumers in disputes involving retailers, producers and importers1.
The Supreme Court has explained that:
- Russian courts have jurisdiction in cases where a foreign manufacturer or service provider has no accredited representative office in Russia. A consumer may file a lawsuit against such foreign company with a Russian court if the promotion and sale of the goods and/or services on the Russian market was done by a Russian entity under contract with the foreign company and acting as the company's de facto "representative office."
- If the consumer seeks a cash refund for a defective product, the importer (in addition to the seller) is obliged to arrange this and may be subject to fines and other penalties, for failure to do so. If the importer has duly explained the procedure to the consumer, but the consumer fails to present the goods for refund, the importer shall be exempt from fines for the non-performance of the consumer's demands.
- If a product cannot be used for more than 30 days in aggregate during one year of warranty due to defects, the consumer may demand a cash refund. If the product has an international warranty, and the product is sent for repair to a service center in a foreign country, the time required for shipping is counted in the 30-day period, which increases the consumer's chances to demand a refund in cases when service centers are located a long way away.
- A customer has the right for a refund for additional equipment and its installation costs when buying a car, provided the same was purchased simultaneously with the car. The cost of the equipment is included in the calculation of the penalty for delays in meeting the customer's claims and for non-compliance with the voluntary procedure for meeting the customer's claims.
Foreign manufacturers should take into account the clarifications issued by the Supreme Court when structuring their relationships with Russian companies, when drafting and approving warranty policies, and engaging in retail sales of sophisticated technical goods and accessories.