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Case detail



Directive article Article 5 2. (a)
Article 7 1.
Article 7 2.
National ID Ombudsman of the Consumer 9th of December 2010 (Protocol No 2853)
Country Greece Decision date 09/12/2010
Common name Decision type Other
Court Συνήγορος του καταναλωτή Plaintiff(s) Consumers
Court translation Ombudsman of the Consumer Defendant(s) Insurance companies
Subject professional diligence
Keywords contract lawinformation obligationmaterial informationpaymentprofessional diligence

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Headnote

The practices of a trader to:

(a) create obstacles for consumers by declaring that, in order for the trader to execute its contractual obligations, consumers must submit additional documents (although such documents are irrelevant with regard to their claim); 
 
(b) systematically omit material information that is necessary for consumers to execute their contractual rights; and 
 
(c) provide information in an unclear way, in order to hinder consumers in submitting the requested supporting documents on time, 
 
are contrary to the obligations of professional diligence and are therefore unfair.

Facts

 

The Ombudsman of the Consumer received a number of oral complaints from consumers stating that several insurance companies delayed payments of money they owed to consumers, according to their life insurance contracts on the date of the termination of the contracts.

The Ombudsman then sent letters to the insurance companies asking for information regarding (i) the exact timing the life insurance money was paid to the consumer, (ii) the reasons of a possible delay in payment, if any (iii) whether the companies paid an interest in case of delayed payment, and (iv) how the companies informed their clients about their payment practices.

The Ombudsman then found that, although every insurance company used different payment practices, all those practices resulted in the same outcome, i.e. the unjustified delay of payment. The commercial practices used towards the consumers included:

- declaring that in order for the companies to execute their contractual obligations, the consumer had to submit additional documents (that were, however, irrelevant to the claim);

- systematically omitting to submit material information that is necessary for the consumer to execute his contractual rights; and 

- providing information in an unclear way, in order to hinder the consumer from providing the requested supporting documents on time.

Legal issue

(1) Is it an unfair commercial practice to require consumers to submit irrelevant documents in order for them to execute their contractual rights? 

(2) Is it an unfair commercial practice to systematically omit material information that is necessary for consumers to execute their contractual rights?
 
(3) Is it an unfair commercial practice to provide unclear information in order to hinder consumers in executing their contractual rights? 

Decision

The Ombudsman held that the commercial practices undertaken by the insurance companies were not in accordance with professional diligence, and were therefore unfair.

  URL Decision Decision full text
EL http://www.synigoroskatanaloti.gr/docs/reports/2010-12-09.%CE%A3%CF%85%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B1%CF%83%CE%B7%20%CF%80%CF%81%CE%BF%CF%82%20%CE%91%CF%83%CF%86%CE%B1%CE%BB%CE%B9%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B9%CE%BA%CE%B5%CF%82.D.pdf
EN N/A

Result

1. The Ombudsman of the Consumer recommended to all insurance companies established in Greece to: 

a) provide clear and understandable information to the consumers regarding the necessary supporting documents that they have to provide in order to receive payment on time,
b) proceed to the immediate and on-time payment of the amounts of money due, and 
c) in case of a delay of payment, to pay the corresponding interest. 
 
2. The Ombudsman of the Consumer asked:
 
a) the consumers to seek the corresponding interest in case of delay of payment, and also to seek compensation for their financial or non-pecuniary loss;
 
b) the Greek Union of Insurance companies to undertake the supervision of the implementation of the aforementioned guidelines,
 
c) the Bank of Greece (Direction of Private Insurance Supervision) to undertake any and all probable appropriate actions within the framework of its competence, and
 
d) the General Secretary of Consumers of the Ministry of Employment and Social Security to undertake any and all probable appropriate actions within the framework of its competence to make sure that all  consumers are informed of the present decision.

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