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Case Details

Case Details
National ID No. of Protocol 14331
Member State Greece
Common Name link
Decision type Other
Decision date 16/05/2016
Court Ombudsman of the Consumer
Plaintiff 1. Unknown, 2. Unknown
Defendant Unknown
Keywords consumer, good faith, plain, intelligble language, transparency

Unfair Contract Terms Directive, Article 5

In case of written contracts, if some or all the pre-defined standard contractual terms (General Terms of Transactions) are in writing, these terms must always be drafted in plain, intelligible language, so that the consumer can perceive their meaning completely.

The two plaintiffs claimed that they filed an application to register at defendant’s educational institute in order to attend a 4 year program of university level courses in obstetrics; those courses were allegedly provided from the above educational institute in partnership with a UK based university (Plymouth University), in order to award an official “Bachelor Certificate”. The plaintiffs claimed that they were deceived regarding the level of the certificates awarded. However, the defendant argued that the plaintiffs were, at the time of registration, aware of the fact that the partnership was with a UK educational institute (not a university) and therefore the specific studies led to the award of a lower level certificate, namely a “Higher National Diploma” (HND) and not a “Bachelor Certificate”.
The application forms to register at the specific educational institute contained pre-formulated standard terms (General Terms of Transactions) that constituted the agreement between the parties (since they contained the financial terms as well as the rules of the education services provided). It was held that neither of these application forms included a clear definition of the nature of the UK based partner institute (university or educational institute), nor the total fee, the payment method and the duration of the program. Therefore, the court held that these contracts were substantially incomplete; as such consumers could not obtain a complete, accurate and clear information regarding their rights and their obligations from the specific transaction. Nonetheless the court dismissed that the plaintiffs have been deceived regarding the level of the certificates awarded; it was ruled that although the meaning of the contract terms was not as clear as it should be, however there was no doubt regarding the level of the certificate awarded (a diploma and not a bachelor). In specific the HND level of the certificate was clearly mentioned in the application form/contract of the first plaintiff. As for the second plaintiff, although the HND level of the certificate was not clearly mentioned in the application form, the plaintiff could still have been aware of that fact by reference to the Study Guide that is an integral part of the contract.
What are the language requirements that the pre-formulated standard terms should be drafted in case of written contracts?

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The court recommended to the defendant to amend the application forms and to provide more clear description of the rights and obligations of the contracting parties; however it dismissed the allegations of the plaintiffs since it held that they were not deceived and that adequate information regarding the level of the certificate awarded was provided; it also called the defendant to notify the court in written within 15 days, whether it accepts the present written recommendation; it also announced this written recommendation to the General Secretariat of Commerce and of Consumer Protection (plaintiff’s request was not granted).