Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Press digest

Air passengers

While the Regulation 261/2004 on air passenger rights is still under review, BBC reported recently on the investigation conducted in the UK by the consumer group Which?. Pursuant to their data between June 2014 and May 2015, ca 900.000 people could be eligible for a compensation for a delayed flight but only ca 38% of them claimed this compensation. Many passengers still don't know about their rights and are not informed about them by the airline. Even worse, airlines often discourage passengers from making this claim by arguing that the delay was beyond their control and therefore an extraordinary circumstance. The process of how to claim this compensation is also often complex. Our advice: see whether any of the online flight claim services operates in your country (such as euclaim, flightclaimservice, flightright). (Delayed airline passengers 'missing out on millions in compensation')


Taping client financial consultations

UK financial advisers were worried that they would have to tape meetings with their clients in order to be able to prove that they were acting in clients' best interests. While MIFID II only demands recordings of phone and electronic communications to be made and store, it also recommends such measures for face-to-face meetings. The Financial Conduct Authority, however, does not expect such far-reaching measures to be taken by financial advisers. (FCA will not demand advisers tape client meetings)


Mobile phone operators in Ireland breach CRD information duties on the right of withdrawal

The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission in Ireland is taking enforcement action against various mobile phone providers (Vodafone, Eircom, Meteor, Three and UPC) for not providing with sufficient and accurate information on how to withdraw from their contract, in accordance with the Consumer Rights Directive. The service providers are asked to update this information and to inform their most recent consumers of their right to withdraw from the contract. (Mobile operator avoids penalty; Consumer watchdog takes action against Vodafone; Action taken against Eircom, Meteor, Three and UPC)


Price discrimination based on nationality in Disneyland Paris

The European Commission has received complaints about Disneyland Paris charging different prices for consumers depending on their nationality. According to the complaints British and German consumers would pay more than French consumers. Generally, it could be considered price discrimination if for the same service people pay more because of their nationality or country of residence, unless Disneyland Paris could justify the need for this price variation. (Disneyland Paris is being investigated for allegedly charging British and German visitors more than the French)


European Commission vs Hollywood

The European Commission has started an antitrust procedure against Sky UK and six major US film studios: Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount Pictures, Sony, Twentieth Century Fox and Warner Bros. These six studios have placed contractual restrictions on Sky UK pursuant to which Sky UK may only make their pay-TV services available in the UK and Ireland and not to EU consumers located elsewhere. Since due to these contractual provisions Sky UK cannot choose its clientele based on commercial reasons, incl. national copyright laws, these rules may amount to anti-competitive agreements, prohibited in the EU. US movie studios tend to, however, choose a broadcaster to license for their products in a single Member State and limit their options to share these services cross-border. Considering the increase in the demand for cross-border services in the EU, incl. (online) pay-TV services, these restrictions may be stifling competition. (Commission sends Statement of Objections on cross-border provision of pay-TV services available in UK and Ireland)


Uber at the ECJ

On July 20 it was announced that a Spanish court referred to the ECJ for an estimation of the legal character of Uber, and more specifically UberPop services. Uber is one of the examples of the sharing economy companies that enables peer-to-peer transactions through an online P2P platform. There are a lot of uncertainties as to the legal position of the online P2P platform, its rights and obligations and its liability. Can it be seen as merely an (electronic) intermediary in a transaction between two peers or could it be seen as a service provider, etc.? In more and more European countries Uber's operations are questioned (and even banned) under national laws, since the courts do not see the activity of Uber as limited to only providing intermediation services. (EU court to classify Uber: taxi or information company?)


Ban of a chemical in imported textiles

Over 10 years ago the use of nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) in textile manufacture in Europe was banned. This toxic substance is used as a cleaning, dyeing and rinsing agent in textile production, however, when it degrades in the environment it ends up in the bodies of fish, disrupting their hormones. Despite the ban, the negative effect of NPE's degradation did not disappear, since imported textiles contained it and when washed released it into the environment. The Council has now voted unanimously on extending this ban to imports of clothing and other products (to become effective 5 years after the adoption of the new rule). (EU countries agree textile chemical ban)

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