In December 2014, Poland finally implemented Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights by the adopting the Act on Consumer Rights (AOCR). The AOCR is the first comprehensive legal act which harmonizes consumer rules in several important areas in order to adapt Polish law to ongoing changes in the consumer environment.
The AOCR supersedes previous legal acts concerning consumer protection – i.e. the Act on the Protection of Certain Consumer Rights and on Liability for Damage Caused by a Dangerous Product and the Act on Special Terms of Consumer Sales and on Amending the Civil Code. The AOCR thus aims to become the single act regulating general consumer rights.
The AOCR contains several key elements:
- New provisions on liability for the quality of goods sold and elimination of the three-regime system which previously existed in Poland. The implementation of a single regime for liability concerning defects of goods, including common rules that apply throughout the EU.
- Revision of the definition of “consumer” that extends legal protection for consumers.
- Standardization of rules concerning common aspects of distance and off-premises contracts, giving the consumer the right to withdraw from any contract within 14 days and increased scope of information requirements to be met by online traders. In practical terms, it means that there is now an obligation for the trader to provide the consumer with information in a clear and comprehensible manner on its website.
- Provision of a “model” of a well-oriented trader who should be aware of the new obligations, e.g. communication requirements and confirmation of each additional payment notification.
The new rules have placed a considerable burden on businesses by requiring an adjustment of general terms and conditions, as well as certain contractual documentation. Additionally, the President of the Competition and Consumer Protection Office (CCP) is now focusing its attention on compliance with consumer protection rules, especially with respect to distance selling.
Non-compliance with the new rules may affect the validity of concluded contracts and result in considerable administrative fines being imposed by the CCP. Therefore, the AOCR requires traders to verify and adjust their standard contractual documentation to bring them into line with the new requirements.