Case law

  • Case Details
    • National ID: III. ÚS 3725/13
    • Member State: Czech Republic
    • Common Name:Bank fees (judgment III. ÚS 3725/13)
    • Decision type: Other
    • Decision date: 10/04/2014
    • Court: The Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic
    • Subject:
    • Plaintiff: S.K. (a natural person, anonymous)
    • Defendant: the District Court for Prague 4
    • Keywords: consumer rights, credit agreement, financial services, imbalance between the rights of the parties
  • Directive Articles
    Consumer Rights Directive, Chapter 5, Article 25
  • Headnote
    (1) The consumer-seller relationship is not directly regulated by a specific part of constitutional law. On the other hand, it is not isolated from nor independent from the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights and freedoms. Therefore, in such a legally regulated relationship, to maintain and secure the fundamental rights and freedoms is deemed to be a duty of the state (see Article 1 (1) of the Czech Constitution), consisting of creating the conditions either for concluding consumer contracts safely and for dealing with disputes arising therefrom. However, unilateral protective measures and other interference from the state may not replace nor be contrary to the fundamental private law principle of autonomy of will and the principle of freedom of establishment.
  • Facts
    The plaintiff seeks to annul a judgement of the District Court of Prague 4 which had dismissed her action against a major Czech savings bank for CZK 7,200 as an unjust enrichment of the bank since it bank had allegedly charged a monthly fee in the amount of CZK 150 for managing the plaintiff's bank account (loan account). Moreover, the District Court decided that the plaintiff was obliged to pay the costs of the proceedings. In the petition, the plaintiff argued that it was not clear what services or other actions were being carried out the bank for the above-mentioned fee, and therefore the provision of a loan agreement, entered into between the plaintiff and the bank, governing the fee was unclear, contrary to good morals and the requirement of good faith in contractual relationships. Due to those facts, the contract created a significant imbalance in rights and obligations of the parties. According to the plaintiff, the District Court failed to consider the principle of the protection of customers as well.
  • Legal issue
    The court gave a judgement that dismissed the petition. Concerning the costs of the proceedings, the court rejected the petition. The petition was not targeting a constitutional review of any particular act nor provisions thereof with regards to consumer protection. Moreover, consumer rights are not specifically deemed as constitutionally guaranteed rights within the meaning of a fundamental right that would be directly connected to a person just because he or she is a customer. Such a quality (a person being a customer) is a special circumstance (i.e. the consumer relationship) where a party (the customer) may invoke generally formulated fundamental rights such as the right to information, the right to health protection, the right to the judicial protection of rights etc. However, it is not the quality of the person being a customer, but the nature of the relationship itself that allows the invocation of these rights. Finally, it is clear that in this case, from a quantitative standpoint (in terms of the amount of the disputed unjust enrichment), it is a petty case, because the disputed amount is below the threshold set with regards of the admissibility of appeal, being CZK 10,000, let alone the threshold for the extraordinary appeal (CZK 50,000). Since the plaintiff sets no reasons why the decision of the court and the consequences therefrom may be fatal to her, and no such consequences are obvious to the court, the Constitutional Court has no jurisdiction in this case.
  • Decision

    Can be the bank fee in amount of CZK 150 regarding operation of bank account regarded as provision which is contrary to the requirement of good morals, thus constituting a significant imbalance in rights and obligations of the parties to the consumer agreement to the detriment of the consumer?

    URL: http://www.usoud.cz/fileadmin/user_upload/Tiskova_mluvci/Publikovane_nalezy/3-3725-13__bankovni_poplatky_.pdf

    Full text: Full text

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  • Result
    The court gave a judgement that dismissed the petition. Concerning the costs of proceedings, the court rejected the petition.