General requirements under consumer law

Updated: 2/8/2016

Here are some general requirements under consumer law.
  • Products or services must comply with the given description and be of a satisfactory standard.
  • Descriptions of and details about the item or service must be true and accurate.
  • If a product is faulty, consumers can request a repair, replacement, or refund under certain conditions up to, at least, twenty-four months from the date of purchase (more in some Member States).

The seller is liable to the consumer for any lack of conformity which exists when the goods are delivered to the consumer and which arises within a period of, at least, two years from delivery. However, a lack of conformity cannot be established if, at the moment of the conclusion of the contract of sale, the consumer knew or could not reasonably have been unaware of the lack of conformity.

Any lack of conformity becoming apparent within six months of delivery will be presumed to have existed at the time of delivery unless proof to the contrary is furnished or this presumption is incompatible with the nature of the goods or the nature of the lack of conformity.[1] During the first 6 months after purchase the burden of proof is on the trader to demonstrate that a product is not faulty; whereas after 6 months have elapsed, it is up to consumers to prove the that the product is not in conformity. 

  • The concept of legal guarantee relates to the legal protection of the purchaser in respect of defects in the goods acquired discussed above. This legal protection is rendered compulsory by the law and is not dependent upon the contract. 
  • The concept of commercial guarantee relates to the willingness of one party, the guarantor, to assume liability for certain defects. It is defined as follows: "any additional undertaking given by a seller or producer, over and above the legal rules governing the sale of consumer goods, to reimburse the price paid, to exchange, repair or handle product in any way, in the case of non-conformity of the product with the contract".[2] Commercial guarantees are in addition to, and not in substitution for, consumers’ statutory rights.

In addition to your obligations for faulty products under consumer law, specific rules apply to distance selling (where you take orders remotely from consumers, be it from your website, email, phone, or fax).

Distance selling in conformity with the EU Directive on Consumer Rights

EU Directive 2011/83/EU[3] on consumer rights applies to distance contracts for goods and services when the trader is based in an EU country, Norway or Iceland.[4] Compliance with the Directive is obligatory for all EU traders.


[1]DIRECTIVE 1999/44/EC OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL

of 25 May 1999 on1999on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees. All the Members States introduced this reversal of burden of proof in favour of the consumer in their national law. Three of them went further by extending the 6-months’ duration to a longer period of presumption.

In Portugal, the reversal of burden of proof is applicable throughout the whole duration of the legal warranty of 2 years. This will also be the case in France starting from March 18th 2016, the period of presumption will be extended to 24 months from the delivery of the good. For second hand goods the reversal of burden of proof period will remain 6 months. In Slovakia, the Consumer Protection Act 250/2007 extends the reversal of burden of proof period to 12 months.

[4] Please note, that some type of contracts are excluded from the Directive’s application, such as contracts for social services or gambling. Consult the extensive list in article 3.3 in Directive 2011/83/EU.