On 26 January 2023, a new Consumer Protection Act (“the Act”) will enter into force, which combines the provisions of the currently applicable Consumer Protection Act and the Act on the Protection of Consumers against Unfair Commercial Practices.The new Act also systematically transposes the content of the three EU Directives in the field of consumer protection law into the Slovenian legal order, introducing quite a few new legal institutions.
As consumer legal protection needs to adapt to evolving trends and new business practices, the Act introduces a number of innovations, and below we outline the key changes to look out for when dealing with consumers.
Labelling of prices and goods
The new Act introduces new rules on price and goods labelling in relation to price reductions and sales. As before, in the case of a price reduction, both the previous price and the reduced price will have to be marked, with the previous price being redefined as the lowest price applied by the undertaking in the 30 days preceding the application of the reduced price. Special marking rules apply in cases of goods which have been on the market for less than 30 days and in cases of continuous gradual price reductions.
Guarantee claims and the seller’s right of recourse
One of the most important changes with the current regulation is in the area of warranty claims, where the Act provides for a hierarchy between warranty claims (previously, the consumer had a free choice, whereas now a statutory priority is established). Thus, in the event of non-conformity of the goods, the consumer must notify the seller and request the restoration of the conformity of the goods free of charge (i.e. by repair or replacement), and only then can he/she either request a reduction of the purchase price in proportion to the non-conformity or withdraw from the contract and request a refund of the amount paid. Notwithstanding this, the consumer will be able to withdraw from the sales contract and claim a refund if the non-conformity occurs less than 30 days after delivery of the goods.
The law also includes new provisions on the seller’s right of recourse, which the seller can enforce against the upstream party in the contractual chain, in the event that the seller fulfills a consumer’s warranty claim due to non-compliance resulting from an act or omission of the upstream undertaking.
Contract for the supply of digital content or services, goods with digital elements
As consumer protection needs to adapt to the digital age, the Act sets out the legal framework for contracts for the supply of digital content and services and for goods with digital elements. The Act distinguishes between digital content or services and goods with digital elements, and also introduces different legal regimes for them, with the contract for the supply of digital content or services being regulated separately, while goods with digital elements will be subject to the provisions on the sale of goods. The provisions governing the contract for the supply of digital content or digital service will also apply to a contract by which the consumer undertakes to provide personal data to the undertaking unless the undertaking processes the personal data provided by the consumer solely for the purpose of supplying the digital content or digital service in accordance with this Act or for the undertaking to comply with legal requirements to which it is subject and does not process the data for any other purpose.
For contracts concluded on online marketplaces, the Act lays down some additional specific obligations. Before the consumer is bound by any contract on an online marketplace, the online marketplace provider must provide the consumer, in a clear understandable, and personalised manner, with prior information on the main parameters determining the ranking of the offers and their relative importance, information on with whom the contract is concluded via the online marketplace (with a company or another person) and how this affects the consumer’s rights and obligations.
If companies fail to comply with the obligations imposed by the new Act, they may be fined up to 5% of the company’s annual turnover in the preceding business year in the Member State(s) concerned, or up to €2,000,000 if the information on the company’s annual turnover is not available. The person responsible may also be fined up to EUR 8 000.
A version of this article in the Slovenian language is available here.
17th January 2023