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Case detail

B a c k

Directive article Article 7 1.
National ID Ombudsman of the Consumer 27th of December 2012 (Νo of protocol 11394)
Country Greece Decision date 27/12/2012
Common name Decision type Other
Court Συνήγορος του καταναλωτή Plaintiff(s) Unknown
Court translation Ombudsman of the Consumer Defendant(s) National Bank of Greece
Subject investments
Keywords average consumerfinancial servicesmaterial informationmisleading omissionsomissionproduct characteristics

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Headnote

It constitutes an unfair commercial practice to omit to inform a consumer, prior to concluding the contract, on the essential characteristics of a financial instrument.

Facts

The Ombudsman of the Consumer received a complaint from the plaintiff accusing the defendant, a financial institution, for misleading precontractual information prior to the purchase of a bond issued by Αspis Finance Plc. According to the plaintiff’s claims, the latter only realized the credit risk associated with his investment when the defendant informed him on 17 January 2012 that the license of operation of the guarantor of the bond, the bank T-Bank A.T.E., was withdrawn and that this bank has entered into the liquidation phase. As a result, the return on investment depended on the outcome of the liquidation procedure.

The defendant answered that the particular bond was freely chosen by the plaintiff and that it was purchased within the general framework of the contract for the provision of investments services (sending and receiving orders) that this plaintiff had with the defendant.

Furthermore, the defendant asserted that the consumers were regularly informed by standard printouts for their portfolio evaluation as well as on a personal level through the employees of the defendant.
 

Legal issue

Does it constitute an unfair commercial practice to omit to inform a consumer, prior to concluding the contract, on the essential characteristics of a financial instrument?

Decision

The Ombudsman first held that, as it derived from the documents submitted, the defendant did not proceed to the categorization of its clients according to the risk that they were willing to take and to their investment knowledge and targets.

The bond in question was bought in the secondary market without informing the consumers about its basic characteristics, in order to allow the consumers to understand the level of risk associated with this specific investment.

The only precontractual document bearing the consumers’ signature was the purchase application. In this application form, however, essential information such as  the issuer of the title, the date of issue, the current market price, the existence or absence of a guarantor, the possible dates for its recall/ withdrawal and the interest rate (stable or floating) was completely missing.

The above characteristics of the bond were considered by the Ombudsman to be important for an investor to be able to have a clear view of the risks involved in such an investment choice. The Ombudsman also took into consideration that the educational level of the plaintiff was not high, nor had the plaintiff been active, on a professional level, in the financial sector.
 

  URL Decision Decision full text
EL http://www.synigoroskatanaloti.gr/docs/reports/2011-11-21.%CE%A3%CF%85%CF%83%CF%84%CE%B1%CF%83%CE%B7-HSBC.pdf
EN N/A

Result

The Ombudsman of the Consumer recommended to the defendant to repurchase back the bond in question giving the plaintiff the market value after deducting the interest already paid.

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