Case law

  • Case Details
    • National ID: 313/2002
    • Member State: Spain
    • Common Name:Eduardo M. A. v “Auto-Olsan S. A.”
    • Decision type: Other
    • Decision date: 30/05/2002
    • Court: Audiencia Provincial (Appellate court, Burgos)
    • Subject:
    • Plaintiff:
    • Defendant:
    • Keywords:
  • Directive Articles
    Consumer Sales and Guarantees Directive, Article 1, 1. Consumer Sales and Guarantees Directive, Article 3, 3. Consumer Sales and Guarantees Directive, Article 5, 1.
  • Headnote
    1. Previous to the transposition of the Directive on consumer sales’ guarantees, when a contract is reinforced with a legal guarantee or a voluntary one, therefore different from the action for latent defects of the Spanish Civil Code (six months), the general period for that action to prescribe is 15 years (art. 1964 Cc.)
    2. The articles of the Directive 1999/44, and particularly article 3 on the content on the right for repair, can be used to interpret the Spanish Law according to the Directive previous to its transposition (in the case, the events happened before the deadline of transposition).
  • Facts
    The claimant, the consumer, signed a contract to buy a car, a second hand Mercedes, registered in 1983, which already had run 228,420 km, for 2,223 euros. On the contract a three month guarantee was agreed. The 2nd November 2000 a serious breakdown occurred. Getting the car repaired was 1,442 euros. There is disagreement between the parties to the contract about the moment in which the car was effectively delivered. The vendor declared that it was done on the date in which the contract was signed (31st March), whereas the purchaser claims that it was the 7th of April, which according to him, it should be the starting date of the legal guarantee, which according to the Spanish regulations at that time is of 6 months. The respondent argues the end of the guarantee period, which is rejected by the court.
  • Legal issue
    “When the duty of liability for latent defects established in the Spanish Civil Code is reinforced by granting a voluntary guarantee or a guarantee granted by an Act, which is incorporated in the latter case to the content of the contract of purchase, the action to complain by virtue of the guarantee it is not an action on latent defects as such (six months), but on the performance of the sale contract of article 1124CC, which is subjected to the general period of prescription [prescripción], no lapsing [caducidad}, of article 1964 CC (15 years), or when it is to do with damages caused by faulty products, to the period of 3 years starting from the moment the damaged is produced”. According to the judgment, it would not make any sense that the law established a period of guarantee of six months that was similar to the one of art. 1490 of the Civil Code, since that would mean that the legislation to protect the consumer has not added anything to the general law.

    The burden of proof about the reason for the breakdown should fall upon the person who provided the product, in application of article 28.2 of the general Law for the Protection of Consumers. The vendor cannot argue defenselessness because of the parts having disappeared, when he did not commit himself to repair the vehicle free of charge complying with the guarantee, nor he facilitated the transfer of the car to the garage, nor was diligent to examine the parts. “All this implies an infringement not only of the legal obligation of the guarantee but also of the provisions of the Directive 199/44/EEC”. In its article 3 are included as consumer rights the repair or replacement within a reasonable period of time and free of charge, explaining this article the sense in which it being free of charge applies. “Despite of the lack of transposition of this important Directive, the deadline being 1st January 2002, and although its provisions are not yet binding, some of them, as the ones mentioned, can be used to interpret Spanish Law from its perspective, and particularly the extent of the guarantee that is established in article 11 of the general law for the Protection of Consumers”.
  • Decision

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