Case law

  • Case Details
    • National ID: 7/2009-JP
    • Member State: Portugal
    • Common Name:link
    • Decision type: Court decision, first degree
    • Decision date: 25/05/2009
    • Court: Justice of the Peace (Coimbra)
    • Subject:
    • Plaintiff: Unidentified students
    • Defendant: Unidentified teaching institution
    • Keywords: misleading commercial practices, misleading omissions, price information
  • Directive Articles
    Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, Chapter 2, Section 1, Article 6, 1. Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, Chapter 2, Section 1, Article 7, 2.
  • Headnote
    A teaching institution that does not inform its students about the conditions for delaying the delivery date of their masters’ thesis (more in particular the costs of permitting such deferment) cannot request the payment of additional tuition fees. Such practice also violates the consumer's right to information. 
  • Facts
    The defendant requested the payment of additional tuition fees due to having authorised the plaintiffs the right to postpone the deadline for their master's thesis. The defendant retained their certificates and diplomas until the payment was performed.

    The plaintiffs argued that:

    (1) The delay of the delivery date of the master's thesis had been requested and granted.

    (2) Their master's theses were delivered within the granted delay period.

    (3) The defendant only requested the payment of the additional tuition fees after the delivery of the theses.

    (4) The defendant never informed the plaintiffs, either orally or in writing, that any fees were due, and the master’s regulation did not mention such obligation.

  • Legal issue
    Failing to clearly inform students about the intention to demand additional tuition fees for the delay of the delivery date of the master's thesis is a violation of the teaching institution’s obligation to inform (which is an extension of the general duty of good faith).

    It is also a violation of the consumer’s right to information, which can lead him to take a transactional decision that he would not have taken otherwise.

    From the master’s programme regulations and communications sent to the plaintiffs by the defendant, it was considered to not be possible, for the average consumer, to understand the obligation to pay additional tuition fees.

    As the defendant only demanded the payment of additional fees after the term of the granted delay period, the court considered that there were no contractual or legal grounds for imposing such obligation.
  • Decision

    Is it a misleading omission for an educational institution to request an additional fee when students want to postpone the deadline for submission of their master's thesis, when such additional fee had not been clearly announced before?


    Full text: Full text

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  • Result
    The defendant was ordered to deliver to each plaintiff the corresponding certificates and diplomas, through the payment of the original individual administrative fee of 280 EUR (instead of the additional fees).