Amendments to the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania: More obligations for the trader to inform the customer about the conditions of the contract
In order to implement directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, the amendments to the Civil Code of the Republic of Lithuania (hereinafter – Civil Code) were adopted. Civil Code was supplemented with articles 6.2281 – 6.22816 and 6.3591, other articles regarding consumer rights and consumer contracts were changed. The aforementioned amendments will take effect on the June 13, 2014. These amendments are relevant to all the entities engaged in transactions with consumers.
Payments and fees
The Art. 6.2285 provides that before the consumer is bound by the contract or offer, the trader shall seek the express consent of the consumer to any extra payment in addition to the remuneration agreed upon for the trader’s main contractual obligation. If the trader has not obtained the consumer’s express consent but has inferred it by using default options which the consumer is required to reject in order to avoid the additional payment, the consumer shall be entitled to reimbursement of this payment.
Art. 6.2288 of the Civil Code provides that the trader shall ensure that the consumer, when placing his order, explicitly acknowledges that the order implies an obligation to pay. If placing an order entails activating a button or a similar function, the button or similar function shall be labelled in an easily legible manner only with the words ‘order with obligation to pay’ or a corresponding unambiguous formulation indicating that placing the order entails an obligation to pay the trader. If the trader has not complied with this subparagraph, the consumer shall not be bound by the contract or order.
It shall be noted that the amendments of Civil Code expand the list of information which shall be presented to the consumer before the consumer and trader enter into contractual relations. The Art. 6.2287 provides that before the consumer is bound by a distance contract or an off-premises contract, following information shall be presented in a clear and comprehensible manner: the total price of the goods or services inclusive of taxes, or where the nature of the goods or services is such that the price cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, the manner in which the price is to be calculated, as well as, where applicable, all additional freight, delivery or postal charges or, where those charges cannot reasonably be calculated in advance, the fact that such additional charges may be payable.
Withdrawal of the contract
From the 13th of June, 2014 withdrawal of the contract will also be heavily regulated. The Art. 6.22810 provides that the consumer shall have a period of 14 days to withdraw from a distance or off-premises contract, instead of 7 days as set prior to the amendments, without giving any reason, and without incurring any costs other than delivery costs. For legal clarity it is established that the consumer shall only bear the direct cost of returning the goods but the trader shall not be required to reimburse the supplementary costs, if the consumer has expressly opted for a type of delivery other than the least expensive type of standard delivery offered by the trader. It shall be noted that if the trader has not provided the consumer with the information on the right of withdrawal as required, the withdrawal period shall expire 12 months from the end of the initial withdrawal period.
Exercise the right of withdrawal
According to the Art. 6.22810, before the expiry of the withdrawal period, the consumer shall inform the trader of his decision to withdraw from the contract. For this purpose, the consumer may either: a) use the model withdrawal form approved by the Government of the Republic of Lithuania; or b) make any other unequivocal statement setting out his decision to withdraw from the contract. Before the adoption of Art. 6.22810, using withdrawal form was not required. The right of withdrawal cannot be exercised in thirteen cases, including the supply of goods or services for which the price is dependent on fluctuations in the financial market which cannot be controlled by the trader and the supply of goods which are liable to deteriorate or expire rapidly. Before the amendments, there were only five grounds to refuse the right of withdrawal.
In conclusion, even though the amendments of the Civil Code establish more obligations for the trader to inform the customer about the conditions of the contract, these amendments also establish the obligation for the customer to reimburse direct cost of returning the goods. This feature can be very useful for online business owners or companies which perform most of their sales online.
Jovita Valatkaite, lawyer of the Gencs Valters Law Firm in Vilnius
Practising in fields of Civil Practice and Civil Right Law in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia
T: +370 52 61 10 00
F: +370 52 61 11 00