Legal Alert – ECJ Judgment on Consumer Protection – Jurisdiction in Cross-Border Disputes (EN)
JUDGMENT OF THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE FROM 17 OCTOBER 2013
IN CASE C-218/12
(CONSUMER PROTECTION – JURISDICTION IN CROSS-BORDER SALES)
On 17 October 2013 the European Court of Justice (the “ECJ”) delivered an important judgment on the interpretation of article 15(1)(c) of Regulation No 44/2001 (the “Regulation”) concerning the jurisdiction of courts in civil claims arising from cross-border consumer sale contracts in the European Union.
Rule of law subject to interpretation
The case is about determining the proper jurisdiction of the courts in hearing consumer claims arising from cross-border sales.
The general rule of the Regulation is the competent court to be the one of the Member State where the defendant is domiciled. However, there are some special jurisdictions which may be the case when consumer disputes are concerned.
Pursuant to the Regulation, a consumer may choose to bring an action against a trader before the national courts where the consumer is domiciled provided that the following two conditions are met:
(i) the trader must carry out its commercial or professional activities in the Member State where the consumer resides or must direct, by any means (for example, in an internet website), its activities to that Member State; and
(ii) the disputed contract must fall within the scope of those activities.
Facts on the case
The case referred to the ECJ is about a French seller of second-hand motor vehicles based in Spicheren (France), a town near the German border. The seller set up specifically for its commercial activity an internet website where business contacts were announced, including French telephone numbers and a German mobile telephone number.
The consumer, who is domiciled in Saarbrücken (Germany), having learned through acquaintances, but not from the seller’s website, about the seller’s business offers, went in the seller’s premises in France and purchased a second-hand motor vehicle.