Case law

  • Case Details
    • National ID: PS8876
    • Member State: Italy
    • Decision type: Administrative decision, first degree
    • Decision date: 31/07/2013
    • Court: Italian Competition Authority
    • Subject:
    • Plaintiff: Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (Rome)
    • Defendant: Fire S.p.a.
    • Keywords: aggressive commercial practices, coercion, legal actions, violence
  • Directive Articles
    Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, Chapter 2, Section 2, Article 8 Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, Chapter 2, Section 2, Article 9
  • Headnote
    Threatening  consumers with unfounded legal action, constitutes an aggressive commercial practice.
  • Facts
    Based on a complaint filed by a consumer interest association, on 21 March 2013, the Italian Competition Authority (the plaintiff) opened infringement proceedings against the defendant, a debt collection agency.

    The investigation ascertained that the defendant usually served the consumers with unmeritorious claims for debt collection.  The consumers were called to appear before the wrong courts, which did not have territorial jurisdiction on the case.

    The plaintiff also discovered that the defendant did not actually file the claims with the court, notwithstanding the fact that this was alleged in the communication towards the consumers.  
  • Legal issue
    The plaintiff held that the defendant's claims were manifestly unmeritorious. They were aimed to intimidate the consumers. The unmeritorious claims were able to cause the consumers to pay the sum requested even if undue in order to avoid the cost and the stress of a proceeding before the courts. Therefore, according to the plaintiff, the defendant breached the prohibition on unfair commercial practices.
  • Decision

    Does threatening  consumers with unfounded legal action, constitute an aggressive commercial practice?

    Full text: Full text

  • Related Cases

    No results available

  • Legal Literature

    No results available

  • Result
    On the basis of the gravity and duration of the practice, the plaintiff imposed on the defendant a fine of € 300.000,00 and ordered it to cease the unfair commercial practice.