Everyone who does not act commercially is a consumer; regardless of whether they buy a hoover or a house, a toy or a yacht, order a new telephone connection or book a trip on the internet. Consumer law is therefore every law.
The enforcement of consumer rights is often not a question of right or wrong. As a rule, the consumer is right. It is more a question of enforcing the right.
Which consumer who receives something from Amazon that he did not order in this way takes the trouble to sue the seller if the value is only 10,20 or 50 €? And if the consumer then finds the time to enforce his rights in court - via a consumer advice centre or a lawyer's office - then the seller pays the amount out of his petty cash, as it is often only one in a thousand who goes to court.
Consumer law in Germany
Effective enforcement of consumer rights is only guaranteed through collective legal protection. In Germany, legislators have long resisted the introduction of collective action. The diesel scandal, which has harmed half a million consumers in Germany alone, has led to a rethink. To protect the courts from an onslaught of individual lawsuits, a model declaratory judgement procedure was introduced, which establishes a claim on the merits in favour of the registered consumers - as long as you meet the requirements of the group. Registration for the proceedings is free of charge and does not require the assistance of a lawyer or any special effort.
However, the consumer only receives a claim for a declaratory judgement and must then sue for the amount of his or her individual damages.
This cumbersome procedure has not led to the hoped-for relief for the courts. The proceedings conducted since the introduction of the law in November 2018 can almost be counted on one hand. Dolce Lauda is one of the very few law firms in Germany that has taken action here. We are very happy to assist enabled qualified entities, such as consumer protection centres, in the implementation of their members' legal claims.
Consumer law in Italy
In Italy, a collective action has been permitted since 2007 and has just led to a success in the diesel scandal in July 2021 before the Venice Regional Court for the suing consumer protection centre, which represented approx. 70,000 consumers. According to a legal reform that came into force in May 2021, collective redress in Italy will not only be limited to consumers, but to all groups that are carriers of collective interests. For example, in the future distributors will be able to sue the manufacturer or commercial agents will be able to sue their principle.
Consumer law in the EU
A consumer effective form of action throughout the European Union will be introduced by the implementation of Directive 1828/2020, which came into force on 25.12.2020, in the member states. They have two years to transpose the directive into national law. It is expected that the new law will replace the cumbersome model declaratory action, which provides for an "interim stop" with a mere determination. Consumers will directly obtain a title through the new collective action.
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