This article contains a thorough analysis of the consumer concept, outlining the legal entities/persons which may be considered as being a consumer, as well as the criteria and the conditions that must be fulfilled in this respect under Law 363/2007 on combating unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices and harmonizing the regulations with European legislation on consumer protection (which transposes Directive 2005/29/EC).
The concept of consumer, as defined under Law 363/2007 on combating unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices and harmonizing the regulations with European legislation on consumer protection, refers to individuals (natural persons) acting with a purpose that may be deemed as being outside their professional activity. Under the author's view, the concept remains vague as regards the extent and scope of the protection for the individuals acting for mixed purposes of procurement (professional and extra-professional). Except for consumer associations, legal entities (ie companies) are excluded from consumer protection (given that the transaction is part of their professional activity). The essential principle of consumer protection is, therefore, represented by the procurement of a product or service by a natural person, for personal or family purposes.
On the other hand, consumer associations, having as their main purpose the protection of the legitimate interest of the consumers, have the essential role of keeping the consumer well informed, but also of representing the consumers' interest in taking legal actions when necessary. The Romanian consumer protection law does not regulate a special procedure authorizing consumer associations to represent consumers' interests towards the administrative authorities or courts, although in the author's view, such procedure would be useful. However, the risk of a professional's unfair commercial practice to cause potential victims or damages is sufficient to characterize the non-observance of the collective interest of the consumers and to justify the legal action of the consumers association.