Case law

  • Case Details
    • National ID: link
    • Member State: Spain
    • Common Name:Oscar M. O. v “Servicios Integrales de F., S. L:”
    • Decision type: Other
    • Decision date: 26/03/2002
    • Court: Audiencia Provincial (Appellate court, Madrid)
    • Subject:
    • Plaintiff:
    • Defendant:
    • Keywords:
  • Directive Articles
    Doorstep Selling Directive, Article 1, 1. Doorstep Selling Directive, Article 4 Doorstep Selling Directive, Article 5 Doorstep Selling Directive, Article 7
  • Headnote
    1. The simple exclusion of Law 26/1991 (21 November) on doorstep selling from the contract in the form of a clause does not prevent the Law form being applied if the legal requirements within the scope of application of the law are satisfied.
    2. The seller is the party responsible for satisfying the formal requirements of the contract, as established by the law, including the written execution of the contract.
    3. From a purely theoretical standpoint, it would have been technically more appropriate and beneficial for the consumer to recognise him a a right of termination rather than nullity of the contract, because the nullity execution period is four years compared with fifteen years in the case of the termination.
    4. The start of the period for taking action to declare nullity must be the day on which the action could have been taken, and which is not the date on which the consumer’s right was violated, since this is deemed to have taken place on the day the transaction was concluded without complying with the mandatory written form, but rather the day on which the consumer became aware of the aforementioned breach on the part of the seller.
    5. Article 5.1 of Law 26/1991, which establishes a period of seven days for the consumer to exercise his/her right to revoke a contract, contains a gap because it does not specify the dies a quo: either the day on which the consumer received the contractual documentation mandatory by Law or the day on which he/she received the purchased items. It seems that the most appropriate interpretation (in the absence of the transposition of the criteria of the Directive, namely the day on which the information about the revocation right is received) would be for this period to start on the day the purchased goods are delivered.
  • Facts
    Mr. Oscar M. O. concluded a teaching contract with the defendant “Servicios Integrales F., S.L.”, for a correspondence electronics course. The total cost of the course was 240,000 ptas. (1,442.42 €), payable in 24 instalments. When he received the items, Mr. Oscar discovered that the course did not meet his requirements and ability because he lacked the necessary basic knowledge to be able to complete the course. Moreover, when he received the first payment notification from the financing entity “Finanzia”, he discovered that the teaching contract was being financed through a credit entity and not by the defendant. The interest rate on the credit was 21%, yet he had not signed any credit document, nor did the contract include the mandatory revocation form stipulated by law. The court declared the nullity of the teaching and financing contract.
  • Legal issue
    The main challenges of this case lie in determining whether or not the sale actually took place away from commercial premises, and thus determine whether it falls within the scope of application of Law 26/1991. Special mention must be made of the fact that the front of the contract document shows that the contract was signed at the domicile of the interested party after an appointment arranged with the latter, and the back page states that the contract does not avail itself of Law 26/1991 as provided in Article 1.7 c) of same. However, the court argued that this legislation could only be excluded if the criteria established in Article 1.7 c) (“the catalogue and contract must clearly mention the consumer’s right to freely cancel the contract within a specific period”) and in letters b) and c) of the same provision (“they are executed on the basis of a catalogue which the consumer has had the opportunity to consult in the absence of the entrepreneur or the person acting on the latter’s behalf, and the continued contact between the entrepreneur and the consumer is envisaged in relation to the present transaction or future transactions”) were satisfied. Since the Court considered that these situations had not occurred and that the contract had not been concluded at the defendant’s premises, it ruled that Law 26/1991 applied to the contract.

    Law 26/1991 is different to both the ordinary sale-purchase regime provided by the Civil Code and Law 20/1984, which deals with ordinary consumption. The revocation right does not exhaust the virtuality of the new Law, which protects consumers by also entitling them to take action to achieve nullity declarations (Article 4.1). Article 3 of the Law established the legal obligation to formalise written contracts away from commercial premises. Article 4 penalises the failure to comply with the aforementioned legal obligation by declaring the relative nullity of the contract in question. The seller is responsible for complying with the legal limitation contained in the aforementioned provision, which, as in any Law, is there to protect consumers.

    In view of this gap in Spanish Law regarding the day on which the period for executing a revocation right must start, the court argued strongly in favour of this being the date of delivery of the purchased items. The judgement reviews the parliamentary debates on transposition. Consequently, Spanish legislation differs from the criteria established in the Directive (Articles 4 and 5) since the criteria establishing the dies a quo as the date of reception of information on the revocation right is not included in Spanish legislation.

    The Judge also considered that no accreditation had been provided to confirm delivery of the revocation form, and this would be grounds for declaring the nullity of the contract. Finally, the court does not accept that the consumer is guilty of unjust enrichment because the conditions stipulated in case law have not occurred in this case.
  • Decision

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