Legal Alert-Judgment of ECJ-Consumer Protection
Seller’s obligations in case of delivering defective goods
The ECJ ruled that where consumer goods which are not in conformity with the contract and were installed in good faith by the consumer in a manner consistent with their nature and purpose, are restored to conformity by way of replacement, the seller is obliged:
- either to remove the goods from where they were installed and to install the replacement goods there,
- or to bear the cost of that removal and installation of the replacement goods.
That obligation on the seller exists regardless of whether he was obliged under the contract of sale to install the consumer goods originally purchased or not.
It should be highlighted that goods must have been installed by the consumer in a manner consistent with their nature and purpose and in good faith as well, meaning before the defect became apparent.
Liability for reimbursing costs incurred for replacement of defective goods
Article 3(3) of Directive 1999/44 must be interpreted as precluding national legislation from granting the seller the right to refuse to replace goods not in conformity on the ground that because of the obligation to remove the goods from where they were installed and to install the replacement goods there, replacement imposes costs on him which are disproportionate with regard to:
- the value that the goods would have if there were no lack of conformity and
- the significance of the lack of conformity.
It is important to note that this only concerns cases where replacement of defective goods is the only remedy possible.
Scope of seller’s liability
If that is the case, however, seller’s liability is not unlimited and regarded as covering all costs incurred. That provision yet allows the consumer’s right to reimbursement of the cost of removing the defective goods and installing the replacement ones to be limited to a seller’s payment of proportionate amount.