New consumer disputes resolution regulations

Below you can find information on selected regulations of the Act on out-of-court consumer disputes resolution dated 23 September 2016, implementing the European regulations on alternative consumer disputes resolution.

The Act applies to resolution of consumer disputes between consumers domiciled in Poland or in another EU Member State and entrepreneurs with their registered seats in Poland. A consumer dispute within the meaning of the Act is a dispute between a consumer and an entrepreneurs that results from a contract concluded between them (both from a contract concluded in business premises, an off-premises contract, as well as a distance contract). A consumer dispute can be of domestic or cross-border character.

The purpose of the Act is to introduce solutions allowing for out-of-court consumer disputes resolution by means of an intervention of a an authorised entity. Such entity will be responsible for presenting a proposal of dispute resolution to the parties, for resolution of disputes between them, or even for imposing upon the parties the manner of dispute resolution. Entities authorised to resolve consumer disputes will be listed in a special register maintained by the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection (UOKiK).

The Act specifies instances in which its provisions will not apply. For example, the Act will not apply to complaint proceedings, entrepreneur’s consideration of consumer complaint letters or to direct negotiations between a consumer and an entrepreneur.

Generally, entrepreneurs are not obliged to resort to out-of-court consumer disputes resolution. If however an entrepreneur decides to do so or belongs to a category of entrepreneurs who under separate legal provisions are obliged to use this system, then under the Act such entrepreneurs will have additional informational responsibilities. Most importantly, the entrepreneur will be obliged to inform consumers of the entity authorised to resolve consumer disputes involving such entrepreneur. Such information should at least include the website address of the authorised entity and should be posted on the entrepreneur’s website and included into their consumer contract forms.

The Act introduces numerous amendments to other acts, among other to the consumer’s rights act dated 30 May 2014. A provision will be added to this act whereunder the entrepreneurs will be obliged to provide an answer to a consumer’s complaint within 7 days from the date of receipt, and lack of such answer within the prescribed period will be considered to mean that the complaint has been accepted.

The Act enters into force as from 10 January 2017, with the exception of the provisions concerning the negotiations coordinator by the President of the Energy Regulatory Office, the amendments to the act dated 9 May 2014 on providing information on prices of goods and services, as well as the amendments to the act dated 23 August 2007 on counteracting unfair market practices, which have already entered into force.

Should you require more specific explanations concerning the above, please contact advocate Michał Chodkowski (e-mail: michal.chodkowski@laszczuk.pl ).