The Notion of Consumer in EU Consumer Acquis and the Consumer Rights Directive-a Significant Change of Paradigm?

Author:Margus Kingise - Age Värv
Position:Docent of Civil Law, University of Tartu - LL.M., Lecturer of Civil Law, University of Tartu
Pages:44-53
SUMMARY

1. Notion of consumer de lege lata - 1.1. The notion of consumer in current EU consumer acquis - 1.2. The notion of consumer in Member States’ law - 2. Main characteristics of the concept of consumer in the context of the changing EU consumer acquis - 2.1. Revision of the EU consumer acquis - 2.2. Consumer as a natural person - 2.3. Consumer acting outside his economic or professional capacity -... (see full summary)

 
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44 JURIDICA INTERNATIONAL XVIII/2011
Margus Kingisepp Age Värv
Docent of Civil Law LL.M., Lecturer of Civil Law
University of Tartu University of Tartu
The Notion of Consumer
in EU Consumer Acquis and the
Consumer Rights Directive—
a Signi cant Change of
Paradigm?
The word ‘consumer’ is used in various meanings in practice. The notion of consumer as it is known in law
differs from the concept of consumer as used in marketing and sociology. In law, precise de nition of the
‘consumer’ is essential in order to delimit the circle of persons entitled to extended legal protection in rela-
tions with traders whose position is stronger. The wider the circle of persons covered by the de nition of
consumer, the more extensive the scope of consumer law provisions is and the less reason there is to speak
about consumer law as a special regulation concerning a narrow group of persons.
In recent years, as the EU consumer acquis is being systematically revised and the fundamental prin-
ciples of European contract law are being drafted, the academic discussion in international legal literature
has mainly been focussed on the aims and principles of consumer contract regulation.*1 On the other hand,
the issue of determination of the circle of persons entitled to extended protection as consumers has been
relatively less touched upon in the discussion hitherto. In this article the authors attempt to bridge this gap
and address in greater detail the bases of the concept of consumer in the light of the changing EU consumer
acquis. The article analyses the concept of consumer in current EU consumer acquis and from the perspec-
tive of Member States, in particular from that of Estonian national law. Then the impact of the recent EU
consumer law initiatives on the concept of consumer is explored, relying on the new consumer rights direc-
tive adopted by the European Parliament.*2 For that purpose, the main bases of changes are highlighted
while addressing the potential risks and challenges of implementing the law in the future.
1 See, e.g., J. Karsten, A. R. Sinai. The Action Plan on European Contract Law: Perspectives for the Future of European Contract
Law and EC Consumer Law. – Journal of Consumer Policy 2003/26; G. Howells, R. Schulze. Modernising and Harmonis-
ing Consumer Contract Law. Munich: Selliers 2009; H. Schulte-Nölke. Perspectives for European Consumer Law. Munich:
Selliers 2010.
2 Position of the European Union adopted at rst reading on 23 June 2011 with a view to the adoption of Directive 2011/.../EU
of the European Parliament and of the Council on consumer rights, amending Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directive
1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 85/577/EEC and Directive 97/7/
EC of the European Parliament and of the Council (P7_TC1-COD(2008)0196). Available at http://www.europarl.europa.
eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P7-TA-2011-0293&format=XML&language=ET#BKMD-21.

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