Thursday, 6 September 2012

Distance is not a factor - CJEU judgment in Case C-190/11 Mühlleitner

The Court of Justice of the EU is back from holidays. Today, it handed down its judgment in Case C-190/11 Mühlleitner. The case concerned the acquisition of a car by Ms Mühlleitner, who resided in Austria, from Autohaus Yusufi in Hamburg, Germany. Ms Mühlleitner had found Authohaus Yusufi's offer through the internet and had then travelled to Germany to sign the contract and take delivery of the car. When a dispute arose concering a defect of the vehicle, the question arose whether the Austrian courts were competent to hear the case. Did the courts' international jurisdiction require for the sales contract to have been concluded at a distance?

The CJEU is of the opinion that the fact that the contract was concluded in the Member State where the seller is based does not mean that the consumer-buyer cannot bring a case in her own Member State. The decisive factor is that the seller's commercial or professional activities were directed at the State of the consumer's domicile:

'If, therefore, (i) the trader domiciled in another Member State pursues commercial or professional activities in the Member State of the consumer’s domicile or, by any means, directs such activities to that Member State and (ii) the contract at issue falls within the scope of such activities, the consumer may bring proceedings before the courts of his own Member State against the trader, even if the contract was not concluded at a distance because it was signed in the Member State of the trader.'

See the press release on this judgment for further information.

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