Terryn, E., G. Howells & H. MicklitzEnforcement of consumer rights: Strategies and recommendations

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Evelyne Terryn, Geraint Howells & Hans Micklitz

Release date:
May 2016 


Consumer Justice Enforcement Forum II

This project builds on the conclusions of the Consumer Justice Enforcement Forum (CoJEF) project (2011-2013). The CoJEF II started on 1 of March 2014 and ran for two years. These are the key project findings regarding strategies and recommendations for the enforcement of consumer rights: 

  • Public and private together: Consumer organisations have been and will remain the frontrunners in relation to consumer law enforcement, particularly in the digital marketplace. They are the watchdogs of the market. Public and private enforcement are not mutually exclusive: to the contrary, they strengthen each other provided an appropriate framework for co-operation exists.
  • Need for structural rules on national and trans-border co-operation in consumer law enforcement: Structural co-operation between consumer organisations and public authorities may take different forms: from regular information exchanges and consultations to joint media campaigns and so forth. This co-operation should be reinforced through the possibility of enforcement requests that the authority must act upon and investigate.
  • Need for complaints collection: The early detection of market failure and consumer problems in quickly-evolving markets remains crucial. This requires a developed and widely standardised system for the electronic collection and evaluation of consumer complaints across the EU. The barriers of fragmented and dispersed collection systems urgently need to be overcome through the development of appropriate common schemes across Europe to guarantee the effective exchange of information, both between consumer organisations and between consumer organisations and public authorities.
  • Need for collective action beyond injunctions: Being able to rely on an effective procedure for collective redress is paramount if consumers are to directly benefit from successful enforcement and the work of consumer organisations. The EU recommendation on collective redress, which still awaits implementation in many Member States, provides for a minimum standard.
  • Need for consumer law enforcement through information technology: The emerging debate on using information technology in particular through the development of self-learning algorithms should be forcefully promoted and made available to consumer law enforcement through consumer associations and public bodies.
  • Need for new approach towards Europe-wide effect of administrative action and judgments: Competition law is ahead of consumer law. Experience with coordinated enforcement action shows that an injunction in one country does not guarantee that a transnationally operating company will change its practices in other EU countries. Whilst information exchange as well as co-operation with national enforcement authorities and the use of social media remain crucial, European standards on the trans-border effect of enforcement actions are needed. 

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