On 1 February 2012, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation (the “Supreme Court”) approved its review of judicial treatment of the protection of consumer rights (the “Review”). A number of important issues are addressed in the Review:
- A business entity bears the burden of proof in consumer disputes
The Supreme Court has indicated that it is for the seller (producer, executor, etc.) to prove the conditions that release it from liability for the non-fulfilment/improper fulfilment of its responsibilities to a consumer. Placing the burden of proof on a consumer contravenes the law.
- A seller must prove that a product is not defective
In all disputes relating to product quality, it is for the seller to prove that the product is not defective or that the defect is not the fault of the seller. If a seller does not inform a consumer that a product is defective at the time of a sale (even if the defect is discovered afterwards), a consumer’s right to exact information at the time of a sale is considered breached.
- The court is required to penalise a seller for refusing to satisfy voluntarily the demands of a consumer
If a seller (producer, executor, etc.) refuses to satisfy voluntarily the legal demands of a consumer, it must pay a fine of 50% of the amount awarded to the consumer. This fine must be paid into the budget of the municipality where the court is located. The court is required to penalise a seller irrespective of whether a consumer has demanded as such.
Consequently, the Supreme Court has clarified a number of key issues arising within consumer claims.
[“Review of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation on certain issues of judicial practice and application of the legislation on the protection of consumer rights when reviewing civil cases”, dated 1 February 2012]