Case law

  • Case Details
    • National ID: Pf. IX.26.574/2001/6.
    • Member State: Hungary
    • Common Name:link
    • Decision type: Other
    • Decision date: 01/01/9999
    • Court: Magyar Köztársaság Legfelsőbb Bíróság (Supreme court)
    • Subject:
    • Plaintiff:
    • Defendant:
    • Keywords:
  • Directive Articles
    Distance Selling Directive, Article 5, 1.
  • Headnote
    If a supplier from a mail order company provides the consumer with inconsistent information that he has both won a prize and may take part in a lottery, this statement does not constitute grounds for the consumer to claim the prize, but only confers a right of appeal.
  • Facts
    The plaintiff ordered various goods from the defendant, a mail order company. In his sales material, the defendant announced the chance to win significant sums of money and informed the plaintiff that he had won a “prize” and could take part in a prize draw.
    The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the company and demanded that the top prize money be paid out to him.
    The Court of First Instance rejected the claim. In the court’s view, it was not possible to prove that the defendant had committed to paying out the winnings. The mere fact that the defendant had contradicted himself by informing the plaintiff that he had won a prize and that he had the opportunity to take part in a prize draw meant that the contract could be challenged on the basis of being misleading. However, it did not mean that the plaintiff could claim the top prize money.
    The plaintiff lodged an appeal with Hungary’s Supreme Court. He argued that he was entitled to the winnings because he had been informed in writing that he had won. In his appeal submission, he referred to the provisions in the Hungarian Civil Code governing a public offer of a reward.
  • Legal issue
    The Court of Second Instance rejected the appeal. In its verdict, the court explained that the defendant wished to increase the turnover of his mail order business and therefore sent personal letters to potential customers. At the same time, he used the letters to inform consumers about prize draws. The information contained in the letters was contradictory, since on the one hand they announced that consumers had won something, and on the other referred to the opportunity to take part in a prize draw. This inaccurate information was sufficient to influence consumers’ decisions. Insofar as the information was capable, in objective terms, of misleading consumers, the contract could be challenged. However, any challenge could only restore the original circumstances, meaning that the consumer could demand that the supplier return the products and repay the purchase price.
    In accordance with § 207 of the Hungarian Civil Code (Ptk), the defendant’s statements should be interpreted as the addressee of the offer would have perceived them, bearing in mind the likely intentions of the defendant and the particular circumstances of the case. In the court’s view, the plaintiff could not realistically have inferred from the mail order company’s statements that the defendant was promising such a high-value prize (eg a family house) in exchange for the consumer’s purchasing low-value products. Such a promise would simply not be economically viable for the mail order company. The statement could only be interpreted as meaning that any consumer buying a product and taking part in the prize draw was also acquiring the chance to win a prize.
    The court rejected the plaintiff’s reference to the provisions governing a public offer of a reward, arguing that a public offer was a statement of intent by one side, promising a specific service to an unspecified number of people. However, the sale of goods did not constitute such a special service.
  • Decision

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