Friday, 15 March 2013

Consumer's definition refined

14 March 2013: CJEU judgment in case Česká Spořitelna (C-419/11)

The CJEU confirmed the view of AG Sharpston (see previous post discussing the opinion in this case) that if a natural personal has close professional links to a company, e.g., is its managing director or majority shareholder, such a person may not be regarded as a consumer when his activity is linked to that of the company, as well. In the given case the natural person was giving a promissory note to guarantee obligation of that company, so that the company could get a credit but still wanted to claim that he acted as a consumer (not in the name of the company). The CJEU did not accept that reasoning that if a person acts as a natural person it is automatically a consumer.

"The Court drew the conclusion from this that only contracts concluded outside and independently of any trade or professional activity or purpose, solely for the purpose of satisfying an individual’s own needs in terms of private consumption, are covered by the special rules laid down by the Convention to protect the consumer. Such protection is unwarranted in the case of contracts for the purpose of a trade or professional activity" (Par. 34)

If in such a situation the natural person is not a consumer, the special recognition and enforcement rules of Regulation No 44/2001 (Brussels I) do not apply to him.

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