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Case detail

B a c k

Directive article Article 2 (b)
Annex I al1 9.
National ID Consumer Rights Protection Centre Decision Nr. E03-PTU-F29-6
Country Latvia Decision date 01/03/2012
Common name Decision type Administrative decision, first degree
Court Patērētāju Tiesību Aizsardzības Centrs (Rīga) Plaintiff(s) Sabiedrība ar ierobežotu atbildību “Online Services”
Court translation Consumer Rights Protection Centre (Riga) Defendant(s) Consumer Rights Protection Centre
Subject black list
Keywords Consumer Credit Directivedistance contractingfree movement of servicesillegal productsintermediaryjurisdictionnational law

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Headnote

(1) An intermediary which only facilitates and administers the conclusion of agreements with consumers, qualifies as a "trader", and its activities qualify as "commercial practices" as defined under the UCP Directive. 
(2) The fact that the website of the trader is localized in a certain country, is sufficient to demonstrate that customers resident in that country are targeted, hence that the requirement for a trader established in another Member State is triggered to receive an appropriate license mandatory in such country.
 

Facts

The plaintiff acted as an intermediary for Alfa-Omega Money Services Group s.r.o, a company established in Czech Republic. The latter was offering consumer credit services, whereas the plaintiff administered the conclusion of contracts and the receipt of payments to and from customers. The services were offered through site www.kreditucentrs.eu.  Since the site was translated in Latvian and the consumers were able to communicate in Latvian via phone numbers registered in Latvia, the Consumer Rights Protection Centre (CRPC) was of the opinion that the services were targeted to Latvian residents.
Under Latvian law, the provision of consumer credit services requires a license. Neither the plaintiff nor the Alfa-Omega Money Services Group holds a Latvian license for providing services relating to consumer credit services. Consequently, CRPC was of the opinion that the Unfair Commercial Practices Prohibition Law (UCPPL) was violated, as the plaintiff was creating the impression that a product can legally be sold when it cannot.
 

Legal issue

(1) Does an intermediary which only facilitates and administers the conclusion of agreements with consumers, qualify as a "trader", and do its activities qualify as "commercial practices", as defined under the UCP Directive? 
(2) Is the fact that the website of the trader is localized in a certain country, sufficient to demonstrate that customers resident in that country are targeted, hence that the requirement for a trader established in another Member State is triggered to receive an appropriate license mandatory in such country?
 

Decision

(1) In a short reasoning, the CRPC held that activities of an intermediary qualify as a "commercial practice" and thet an intermediary qualifies as a "trader" in the sense of the UCP Directive.
(2) The CRPC found that customers in Latvia were clearly targeted. Reference was made to the European Court of Justice decisions C-585/08 and C-144/09. Latvian laws requiring the obtaining of a license to provide consumer credit services, are applicable irrespective whether the contract is concluded online or in presence of both parties. The eCommerce Directive (2000/31/EC) does not prevent the application of mandatory provisions applicable to consumer contracts; therefore it does not preclude the application of mandatory local laws that grant consumers certain protective measures. Accordingly, the CRPC held, in order for the services concerned to be legitimate, the trader providing such services should hold the required Latvian licenses. In absence of such license, the trader will violate the UCPPL (implementing the UCP Directive) by offering a service which cannot be legally provided.      
 

  URL Decision Decision full text
EN N/A
LV http://www.ptac.gov.lv/upload/ptac_lemumi/2012/online_service_lemuma_izraksts_03_2012.pdf

Result

The plaintiff was penalized for breaching the prohibition on unfair and aggressive commercial practices.

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