Friday, 14 March 2014

On the unfairness in Budapest

On March, 13th Pázmány Péter Catholic University and the Hungarian Competition Law Research Centre organized the Second Annual Conference on the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. The once-a-year meetings aim at sharing national experiences with the regulations, which transpose the UCP Directive to national law systems, among experts and academics from various Member States.

This year the conference focused on special forms of unfair commercial practices: health claims and ‘up to’ claims. Nevertheless, three contributions gave a general overview of the unfair commercial practices regulations and practice. Sophie Ridoux (DG Justice EU Commission, Brussels) presented the main conclusions of the Commission's Report on the application of the UCP Directive and the revision of the 2009 UCP Directive Guidance. Attila Kőhalmi (member of the Competition Council) spoke on the importance of UCP cases for the Hungarian Competition Authority. Additionally, Professor Spencer W. Waller (Loyola School of Law, Chicago) assessed class action system in the U.S. as helping consumers receive compensation upon being victimized by misleading advertising.

Two authors of this blog were honoured to be speakers. 

I (Monika Namysłowska, University of Lodz) presented the Polish experience with health claims which unfortunately become more and more frequently a subject of an unfair commercial practice. Since Poland takes an infamous first place in Europe in the number of medicines bought per head, it does not surprise that the use of (unfair) health claims to tempt consumers is attractive to the advertisers. 

Joasia Luzak (CSECL, University of Amsterdam) discussed the Dutch experiences with ‘up to’ claims. While there are quite a few cases of the Dutch self-regulator, the RCC (Reclame Code Commissie), estimating potential misleading character of advertising statements that a purchase of a certain good or service would save consumers ‘up to’ a certain amount of money, there seems not to be a specific standard how to assess their unfairness. Such claims may need to be given a closer look by the academics and regulators in order to come up with a fairness standard that would protect consumers, not obscure marketing and guarantee legal certainty. For all speakers see:

We hope to join the Third Annual Conference on the UCPD next year and to participate in future numerous inspiring discussions on the unfairness, as well as to enjoy the beautiful city of Budapest further. 

1 comment:

  1. This is always an ongoing discussion. Theoretically the firms are not wrong as they tell the truth. However, it could be misleading because people expect much higher returns.