Law Applicable to Consumer Contracts: Interaction of the Rome I Regulation and EU-directive-based Rules on Conflicts of Laws

Author:Ragne Piir, Karin Sein

The article discusses the abundance and interaction of rules aimed at determining the law applicable to cross-border consumer contracts. Firstly, it examines whether there is a continuing need for conflict-of-laws rules that stem from consumer-related directives. It then addresses the question of whether the Estonian Law of Obligations Act’s conflict-of-laws rules comply with the consumer-related ... (see full summary)

Ragne Piir Karin Sein
LLM, Doctoral student Professor of Civil Law
University of Tartu University of Tartu
Law Applicable to
Consumer Contracts
Interaction of the Rome I Regulation
and EU-directive-based Rules on Con icts of Laws*
1. Introduction
Questions related to the law applicable to cross-border consumer contracts have long been subject to ongo-
ing discussions for the European legislator and in academic circles. As is well known, Article 6 (2) of the
Rome I Regulation*1, which lays down harmonised con ict rules for the EU, provides that even if the parties
to a consumer contract have agreed that a particular system of law is to be applied, such choice may not
deprive consumers of the protection a orded to them by the mandatory provisions of their state of habitual
residence. This means, for instance, that an owner of a web-shop wishing to sell its products in all member
states has to consider the mandatory consumer protection provisions of 29 individual legal orders. It was
precisely this problem that the proposal for a Common European Sales Law – now already legal history
itself – was an attempt to solve.*2
Much less attention has been given to the con ict-of-laws provisions contained in various EU consumer
directives. Article 6 (2) of the Unfair Terms Directive,*3 for example, stipulates that member states shall
take the necessary measures to ensure that the consumer does not lose the protection granted by that direc-
tive by virtue of the choice of the law of a non-EU-member country as the law applicable to the contract if the
consumer has a close connection with the territory of the relevant member state. Similar rules on con ict
of laws are set forth by Article 12 (2) of the Distance Marketing of Consumer Financial Services Directive,*4
Article 7 (2) of the Consumer Sales Directive,*5 and Article 22 (4) of the Consumer Credit Directive.*6 Those
* This article was prepared within the framework of the project EMPқҙҞ and ESF Grant No. ҢқҙҢ.
Қ Regulation (EC) No. ҞҢҜ/қҙҙҡ of the European Parliament and of the Council of ҚҠ June қҙҙҡ on the law applicable to
contractual obligations (Rome I). – OJ L ҚҠҠ, ҝ.Ҡ.қҙҙҡ, p. ҟ . For general commentary on Article ҟ of Rome I, see, for
example, F. Ragno. Article ҟ. – F. Ferrari (ed.). Rome I Regulation. Sellier European Law Publishers қҙҚҞ, p. қҙҡ . – DOI:Қҙ.ҚҞҚҞ/ҢҠҡҜҡҟҟҞҜҢҠҡҞ.
қ Proposal for a Regulation on a Common European Sales Law, COM (қҙҚҚ) ҙҟҜҞ nal, preamble p. Ҝ.
Ҝ Council Directive ҢҜ/ҚҜ/EEC of Ҟ April ҚҢҢҜ on unfair terms in consumer contracts. – OJ L ҙҢҞ, қҚ.ҝ.ҚҢҢҜ, p. қҢ .
ҝ Directive қҙҙқ/ҟҞ/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of қҜ September қҙҙқ concerning the distance mar-
keting of consumer nancial services and amending Council Directive Ңҙ/ҟҚҢ/EEC and Directives ҢҠ/Ҡ/EC and Ңҡ/қҠ/
EC. – OJ L қҠҚ, Ң.Қҙ.қҙҙҚ, p. Қҟ .
Ҟ Directive ҚҢҢҢ/ҝҝ/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of қҞ May ҚҢҢҢ on certain aspects of the sale of
consumer goods and associated guarantees. – OJ L ҚҠҚ, Ҡ.Ҡ.ҚҢҢҢ, p. Ққ .
ҟ Directive қҙҙҡ/ҝҡ/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of қҜ April қҙҙҡ on credit agreements for consumers
and repealing Council Directive ҡҠ/Қҙқ/EEC. – OJ L ҚҜҜ, ққ.Ҟ.қҙҙҡ, p. ҟҟ .

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