EU regulates enforcement of consumer protection

Czech Republic

In a significant stepping up of European enforcement
policy, Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 was passed on
27 October 2004 on cooperation between national
authorities responsible for the enforcement of consumer protection laws. This requires Member States' enforcement authorities to cooperate with each other on intra-Community infringements of 15 EU consumer protection measures, including the Community Code on medicinal products, and
the Directives on unfair contract terms, misleading
advertising, price marking, e-commerce, distance marking of consumer financial services, and sale of goods and consumer guarantees.

The structural provisions are to apply from 29 December 2005, and from 29 December 2006 authorities are required to

- have adequate enforcement resources and powers;

- take all necessary enforcement measures to bring about the cessation or prohibition of intra-Community
infringements without delay;

- notify the other Member States' authorities without delay of an intra-Community infringement, or reasonable suspicion that one may occur;

- coordinate their market surveillance and enforcement activities, exchanging all necessary information.

A feature, and possibly disturbing trend, is for consumer organizations (or other bodies who may be designated by States as having a legitimate interest) to play an essential role in enforcement, cooperating with the competent authorities.

The Regulation provides that information communicated may only be used for the purpose of ensuring compliance. However, commercial information may be disclosed where it is necessary to bring about the cessation or prohibition of an intra-community infringement and the communicating authority consents to its disclosure.

For further information please contact Dr Christopher Hodges on +44(0)20 7367 2738 or at christopher.hodges@cms-cmck.com