Legal Alert – ECJ Judgment on Consumer Protection – Scope of Protection – Public Bodies (EN)
JUDGMENT OF THE EUROPEAN COURT OF JUSTICE FROM 3 OCTOBER 2013 IN CASE C-59/12
(CONSUMER PROTECTION – SCOPE OF PROTECTION – PUBLIC BODIES)
On 3 October 2013 the European Court of Justice (the “ECJ”) delivered an important judgment on the applicability of Directive 2005/29/EC (the “Unfair Commercial Practices Directive” or “UCPD”) regarding unfair business-to-consumer commercial practices undertaken by public law bodies. The provisions of the UCPD are implemented in the Bulgarian legislation by the Consumers Protection Act, which applicability is therefore also under question.
Facts on the case
BKK is a health insurance fund established as public law body and part of the German statutory system.
The German Federal Court of Justice found that the information published on BKK’s website and targeted to BKK’s customers constituted a misleading practice prohibited by the UCPD and the respective German law.
This case brings about the question of the applicability of the UCPD in relations between consumers, on one side, and public bodies, on the other side.
The ECJ is basically asked whether the action of a public law body charged with a task of public interest (health insurance) can constitute an act by a ‘trader’ in the form of a businessto-consumer commercial practice pursuant to the UCPD.
It has been argued that such a body is not involved in a commercial activity but rather pursues an exclusively social objective and should be excluded from the scope of application of the UCPD.