The court argued that since the dispute concerns a consumer contract, then the law that is to apply is the special law laid out by the Consumer Affairs Act rather than the general contract law of the Civil Code. Thus, contrarily to the provisions of the Civil Code which state that prescription starts to run from the day that the consumer ‘could’ have discovered the latent defect, in cases of consumer contracts Article 78 of the Consumer Affairs Act (or Article 5(1) of Directive 1999/44/EC) dictates that the time in which a consumer may make his/her claim runs as from the date that the lack of conformity to the description of the goods ‘becomes apparent’. Meanwhile, the same provision also dictates that such time shall be suspended once negotiations are ongoing between the trader and consumer in order to reach a settlement, which in fact happened in this particular case.
The court finally concluded that when the plaintiff bought a new fridge she had every right to expect that it would not have any defects in such a short time after delivery. It cannot be argued, as the defendant did, that the fridge was not installed properly, since if anything, if the installation was so complicated the seller should have advised the buyer at the time of the purchase.
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