Case law

  • Case Details
    • National ID: Court of Justice (Eighth Chamber), Judgement C-332/17
    • Member State: European Union
    • Common Name:Starman Aktsiaselts v Tarbijakaitseamet
    • Decision type: Court of Justice decision
    • Decision date: 13/09/2018
    • Court: Court of Justice
    • Subject:
    • Plaintiff:
    • Defendant:
    • Keywords: Consumer protection, Consumer contracts, Telephone communications
  • Directive Articles
    Consumer Rights Directive, Chapter 4, Article 21
  • Headnote

    ECLI identifier: ECLI:EU:C:2018:721


    The question arose in relation to an Estonian company’s policy of offering customers a basic rate landline telephone number as well as a higher rate speed dial telephone number on which to contact them about their contracts with the company. The Court held that the policy was contrary to Article 21. It was not possible to determine the question on the wording of that provision alone, however, the court made its decision by analysing Article 21 in context and considering the objective of the Directive to achieve a high level of consumer protection.

  • Facts

    Starman is a provider of telecommunication and Internet services. That company makes available to consumers who have already concluded a contract with it, for matters relating to that contract, first, a landline number at the basic rate and, second, a speed dial number at a rate higher than the basic rate when calling from a mobile phone. All consumers are made aware of that speed dial number, inter alia on the homepage of Starman’s website, in the standard contracts and in the general terms and conditions of those contracts.

    On 15 June 2015, the Board issued an order against Starman, based on the finding that making available a speed dial number at a rate higher than the basic rate to consumers who have already concluded a contract with that company is contrary to Paragraph 281(3) of the VÕS and Article 21 of Directive 2011/83, on which that provision of national law is based.

    The Board ordered Starman to cease offering consumers that speed dial number and to offer only a landline or mobile telephone number at the basic rate. In accordance with that order, a speed dial number could be used only if the related additional costs were borne by the trader.

    Starman brought an action for annulment of that order before the Tallinna Halduskohus (Administrative Court, Tallin, Estonia). The company claims, on the contrary, that Paragraph 281(3) of the VÕS and Article 21 of Directive 2011/83 do not prohibit the additional offer of a speed dial number at a higher rate than the basic rate to consumers who have concluded a contract if the trader does not make income from it and as long as a landline number at the basic rate is also offered, in parallel, to consumers in a comprehensible and easily accessible way.

  • Legal issue
    • Is Article 21 of Directive 2011/83 to be interpreted as meaning that a trader can make available a telephone number for which a higher rate than the normal rate applies if the trader, in addition to the telephone number at a higher rate, also offers consumers, in a comprehensible and easily accessible way, a landline number at the basic rate for the purposes of contacting him in relation to a contract concluded?

    • If the answer to Question 1 is affirmative, does Article 21 of Directive 2011/83 preclude a situation in which a consumer who voluntarily uses a telephone number with a higher rate for contacting a trader in relation to a contract concluded, even though the trader provides a telephone number at the basic rate in a comprehensible and easily accessible manner, is obliged to pay the higher rate for contacting the trader?

    • If the answer to Question 1 is affirmative, does the limitation in Article 21 of Directive 2011/83 oblige the trader to also specify everywhere, along with the speed dial number, a landline number at the normal rate and information on the difference in price?

  • Decision

    The first subparagraph of Article 21 of Directive 2011/83/EU must be interpreted as precluding a situation in which, if a trader has made available to all its customers one or more speed dial numbers at a rate higher than the basic rate, consumers who have concluded a contract with the trader in question pay more than the basic rate when contacting that trader by telephone in relation to that contract.

    URL: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/ALL/?uri=CELEX%3A62017CJ0332

    Full text: Full text

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  • Result

    The ECJ agreed with Mr Starman and held that Article 21 of Directive 2011/83/EU must be interpreted as precluding a situation in which, if a trader has made available to all its customers one or more speed dial numbers at a rate higher than the basic rate, consumers who have concluded a contract with the trader in question pay more than the basic rate when contacting that trader by telephone in relation to that contract.