EU Parliament votes for contract for online sales

New law would also ease online traders' costs

Europe-wide rules covering online sales came a step closer as the European Parliament backed plans for a new contract law on Wednesday.

The proposed European Contract Law would set standard rules for buying and selling across borders in the 27 E.U. member states and is particularly relevant for online sales. Currently only 8 percent of European consumers buy online from another member state. While language is arguably a barrier, the European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding believes that a lack of clarity on contracts also plays a huge part.

"You often get the following message on the website of the company: 'Sorry, the product you have requested cannot be purchased by you as you are a non-resident.' While we cannot and should not ever touch Europe's linguistic diversity, the diversity of national contract law system is not an insurmountable obstacle. Laws can converge. Bridges can be built between different contract law systems. Common principles of contract law can be identified," she said.

The Commissioner added that the new law would give Europe's 500 million consumers more opportunities to shop across borders while cutting transaction costs for small businesses. It could save a small online business wishing to trade in Europe an estimated €9,000 (US$13,500) in legal and translation fees per country -- or more than €230,000 if they wanted to take their business E.U.-wide, according to the Commission.

Contracts formalize an agreement between parties and can cover a broad range of issues, including the sale of goods and associated services such as repairs and maintenance. Europe currently has more than 27 different legal systems for contractual transactions.

The European Court of Justice recently ruled that a website operating in the language of another E.U. member state can be deemed to be directing its products and services to consumers in this other state, meaning that business must comply, not only with the laws of its own country, but also that of the other member state. A common contract law would circumnavigate this difficulty.

The proposed European Contract Law is an optional instrument which consumers and websites can opt in or out of, possibly by means of a "blue button" that would make it clear to the consumer, with language such as, "If you click here, then you contract under European Contract Law, not your national law."

The European Parliament approved the draft European Contract Law by overwhelming majority with 521 in favor and 145 against.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentregulationinternetlegislatione-commercetradeeuropean commission

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?