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Case Details

Case Details
National ID Decision nr RGD. 8/2009
Państwo członkowskie Polska
Common Name link
Decision type Administrative decision, first degree
Decision date 30/04/2009
Sąd Prezes Urzędu Ochrony Konkurencji i Konsumentów w Warszawie
Powód/powódka The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection in Warsaw
Pozwany/Pozwana Remondis Szczecin sp. z o.o. with the registered office in Szczecin
Słowa kluczowe contract law, economic behaviour, material distortion, misleading commercial practices

Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, Chapter 2, Article 5, 2.

A clause in the general terms and conditions that states that the consumer can only terminate the agreement "after a period of 2 years, by giving three months notice", is considered an unfair commercial practice which distorts (or is likely to distort) the economic behaviour of consumers.
In its contracts for municipal waste disposal services addressed to the individual customers, the defendant used the following clause: "The contract shall be concluded for an indefinite period of time, unless otherwise decided on the reverse of the contract. The contract may be terminated after a period of 2 years by giving three months notice". The clause constituted an integral part of a unilateral contract of adhesion. 

The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection started proceedings in order to determine whether such clause could be prohibited because the clause:

 (1) secures the trader's interests;

 (2) Imposes on customers a disadvantageous term of the contract; and

 (3) Hinders consumers' ability to appropriately go along with rapid market changes.

Does the clause amount to an unfair commercial practice? 

The President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, after proceedings instituted ex officio, ruled that the practice of the trader is unfair in the light of Art. 4 sec. 1 of the Prevention of the Unfair Commercial Practices Act. The President decided that the clause materially distorts (or is likely to distort) the average consumer's economic behaviour, and is also contrary to the requirements of good practice. 
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The market practice of the trader was found to be unfair. A financial penalty amounting to PLN 35.304 (about 9.110 EUR) was imposed on the trader.