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Case Details

Case Details
National ID 8Sžo/3/2015
Member State Slovakia
Common Name link
Decision type Supreme court decision
Decision date 14/12/2016
Court The Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic
Subject
Plaintiff ZEPTER SLOVAKIA spol. s r.o.
Defendant Slovak Trade Inspection, Central Inspectorate of the Slovak Trade Inspection in Bratislava
Keywords consumer, consumer rights, doorstep selling, unfair commercial practices

Unfair Contract Terms Directive, Article 7, 2. Doorstep Selling Directive, Article 1, 1. Consumer Rights Directive, Chapter 1, Article 2, (8)

(1) The Council Directive 85/577/EEC of 20 December 1985 to protect the consumer in respect of contracts negotiated away from business premises addresses doorstep selling and guarantees protection of a consumer who might be exposed to unfair commercial practices. The court distinguished commercial premises and premises not designed for selling goods or services. In particular, apartments of sole traders can be considered as not suitable premises for commercial purposes and thus special conditions must apply in accordance with the Council Directive 85/577/EEC of 20 December 1985 to protect the consumer in respect of contracts negotiated away from business premises.

(2) A commercial practice is deemed to be unfair if a commercial practice is contradicting to the requirements of professional care and significantly disturbs economical behaviour of a consumer in relation to goods/services. Application of unfair commercial practices can lead to sanctions imposed by authorized state bodies.
The plaintiff, a legal entity, claimed the annulment of the court decision, in which the defendant rejected an appeal of the plaintiff and reaffirmed the decision of the Slovak Trade Inspection to impose a fine of EUR 5,000 for an infringement of the prohibition of unfair commercial practices.

The District Court ruled that the defendant approached the matter correctly and thus the judgement under appeal and the defendant's actions were in accordance with law. The District Court stated that the action of the Central Inspectorate of the Slovak Trade Inspection was justified and emphasized the disadvantaged position of a consumer with regards to negotiations. The District court referred to the Council Directive 85/577/EEC of 20 December 1985 to protect the consumer in respect of contracts negotiated away from business premises applicable to unfair commercial practices and stated that the plaintiff used prohibited practices. The plaintiff appealed against the District Court's decision to the court and claimed the annulment of the fine and reimbursement of legal fees.
The court ruled in favor of the defendant. The court declared that findings of the District Court were justified and the plaintiff breached the Council Directive 85/577/EEC of 20 December 1985 to protect the consumer in respect of contracts negotiated away from business premises transposed into Act No. 108/2000 Coll. on consumer protection in doorstep selling and in distance selling, as amended.

The court did not consider the plaintiff's appeal objections relevant and claimed that the court of first instance took satisfactory attention to the question of doorstep selling. The court also pointed out that the agreement was concluded in the plaintiff's apartment, which is registered at the Trade Licensing Office as place of registered business.

The court promulgated that premises not designed for negotiations include for example apartments, where a seller offers services or goods. According to the court, such premises put a consumer under psychological pressure causing consumer's unpreparedness to conclude any agreement.

The court did not take into account the plaintiff's second appeal objection regarding the erroneous decision of the court of first instance. The court considered the ruling on withdrawal from a contract for justified and did not find any errors in the decision of the court of first instance. The court reaffirmed the decision and claimed that the plaintiff's approach towards withdrawal from a contract rules was considered unprofessional and infringed the consumer protection law.
(1) Is the Council Directive 85/577/EEC of 20 December 1985 to protect the consumer in respect of contracts negotiated away from business premises applicable to doorstep selling, where a sole trader is selling goods outside of its commercial premises such as apartments, etc.?
(2) What does unfair commercial practice mean?
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The decision of the court confirmed the judgment of the District Court and rejected the reimbursement of legal charges.