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Summary

What I am convinced about, and what I tried to present in my thesis is fact that consumers participating in online transactions need protection exactly as these making purchases in traditional way. The Internet constitutes so completely different environment from traditional “brick and mortar” shops that it is practically impossible to unambiguously determine which environment is more difficult for consumers.

In my opinion the most important conclusion which could be drawn from this differences is fact that consumers in e-commerce need not the same protection as in traditional purchases but equal level of protection. Obtaining such a level of protection, aimed not at creation of privileged group, but at restoring disturbed balance of market powers, will require however application of different means in respect to distance transactions than in the traditional trade.

European consumer law on its current stage of development provides consumers with satisfactory level of protection by combining informational duties with entrepreneurs’ responsibility for non-compliance of goods with a contract and providing consumers with a right to withdraw from already concluded transaction. Efficiency of this means of protection is increased by providing consumer organisations and other bodies with rights allowing them to undertake actions for the purpose of protecting collective interests of consumers. Protection of collective interests of consumers is especially important in case of informational duties infringements as often consumers’ interests are violated only potentially and consumers cannot be reasonably expected to in such situations expected to act on their own, while on the other hand preventive actions constitute an essential element of any reasonable consumer protection policy.

What ought to be admitted European regulations have already been efficiently implemented into the Polish legal system, what gained even European Commission’s approval in Comprehensive monitoring report on Poland’s preparations for membership (2003).

While the general level of consumer protection may be described as satisfactory, than consumers still face multiple problems. Most of all the efficiency of their rights realisation is far from perfect. Especially difficult is access to justice in case of transborder transactions, while at the level of transactions within the EU some attempts to improve the situation, have been undertaken (vide regulation 44/2001), than transactions exceeding the EU may be described as a legal equivalent of lands described on ancient maps with ominous description hic sunt leones.

The most important suggestions de lege ferenda, which could be made here are placing increased stress on extrajudicial dispute resolution, especially online dispute resolution. Online sellers ought to be encouraged to joining online Alternative Dispute Resolution (eADR) schemes which allow for quick, cheap and usually efficient resolution of disputes arising out of transactions concluded online through arbitration or mediation by a trusted third party.226

This postulate combines with another extremely important issue determining consumer’s trust to e-commerce and entrepreneur acting therein – namely trustmarks. While trustmarks themselves, as signs of entrepreneur’s membership in organizations granting a unified quality ought to be strongly encouraged; than the current situation does not provide transparency sufficient to allow consumers for informed decisions basing on the mere entrepreneur’s participation in a trust programme. For the purpose of acquiring consumers’ trust necessary is achieving higher level of uniformity, providing transparent means of supervision and combining usage of a trustmark with obligatory membership in eADR scheme guaranteeing consumers reliable, easy and efficient pursuing their claims.

The other potential postulates for future development of consumer law regarding online sale, involve granting consumer organisations with stronger measures for supervision of entrepreneurs’ fulfilment of informational duties, it is so advisable because only extended means of collective interests of consumers may guarantee effective prevention of consumer rights’ infringement.

Still the future development of e-commerce is so unpredictable that it is impossible to provide specific guidelines for the development of law which rather should follow the development of technology and economy – what is however certain is necessity of flexibility and quick reaction for oncoming trends.