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Written by Skopa - Zanganas & Associates Date 25 May 2022

Newly introduced changes in the Greek Consumer Protection Legislation: Law 4933/2022

Greek Law 4933/2022, which incorporates the provisions of Directive (EU) 2019/2161, in regards to the better enforcement and modernization of EU consumer protection rules, in Greek legislation, was recently published in the Government Gazette (Government Gazette A' 99/ 20.05.2022).

The new law is entitled: "Adaptation of the Greek legislation to Directive (EU) 2019/2161 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 November 2019 amending Council Directive 93/13 / EEC and Directives 98/6 / EC, 2005/29 / EC and 2011/83 / EU of the European Parliament and of the Council in regards to the better enforcement and the modernization of Union rules on consumer protection, and other provisions", and amends, inter alia, Law 4177/2013 (Rules regulating the functioning of the markets for the sale of products and the provision of services) and Law 2251/1994 (National Consumer Protection Law), focusing on the provisions related to increased transparency, unfair commercial practices, the protection of consumer rights, and the modernization of the consumer protection framework to match the challenges of the digital era.

 

A brief overview of the key changes introduced by the new Law is provided hereinunder:

 

A) Amendments to the National Law on Consumer Protection (L.2251/1994)

 

1. Amendment and Modernization of the definitions. (Art.1a, 3, & 9α L.2251/1994)

The new legislation introduces new, and amends some of the existing, definitions of the Consumer Protection Law. Specifically:

  • The definition of a "product" is modified to include digital content and digital services.
  • The definition of "goods" is modified to include physical objects that are substantially linked to digital services or content.
  • Definitions are introduced for the concepts of "digital service", "online marketplace", "online marketplace provider", product "ranking", "compatibility" and "interoperability".
  • The definitions of "Sales Agreement" and "Services Agreement" are amended. The obligatory element of the consumer either paying a monetary price or undertaking to pay the price is removed. Thus, the above definitions’ scope is extended to cover modern types of consumer agreements that do not require the payment of a monetary price (e.g. "free" apps, social media etc.).

 

2. Introduction of new obligations and information rights in Online Marketplaces. (Art.3ba & 9e L.2251/1994)

The new legislation introduces a number of additional information obligations for online marketplace providers, while providing the corresponding rights to consumers who use these marketplaces.

Online Marketplace Providers will now need to provide consumers with the following additional information, before the conclusion of a contract or the acceptance of an offer by the consumer:

  • General and transparent information regarding the parameters that determine the ranking of the products presented, in the online marketplace, as a result of a consumer’s search. This information must be located in an easily accessible part of the webpage where the offers/search results are displayed.
  • Information on whether the third party offering the goods / services / digital content (seller) is a merchant/business or offers the goods as an individual, i.e. whether the consumer will enter into a B2C or C2C relationship/contract. This information is provided based on a declaration that the seller submits to the online marketplace provider.
  • If the goods/services are provided on a C2C basis, the fact that the rights provided for by consumer protection legislation do not apply in the agreement.
  • If applicable, how the relevant obligations of the online marketplace provider and the seller towards the consumer are shared, based on the contract between the former two parties.

 

 

 3. Misleading acts, omissions, and commercial practices, . (Art.9d, 9e & 9f L.2251/1994)

The following actions are now explicitly recognized as misleading acts, omissions, or commercial practices:

  • In Online Marketplaces:  Any failure, of the marketplace provider, to provide the consumer with information relating to the parameters that determine the product ranking results and/or with information about whether the consumer will enter into a B2C or a C2C relationship with the seller, constitutes a misleading omission.
     
  • In relation to consumer reviews:
    i. A new obligation of the supplier, who provides access to product reviews, to inform consumers on whether the published reviews come from verified buyers is introduced, together with an obligation to provide information on how the supplier ensures the integrity of that process. Failure to disclose such information is considered a misleading omission. Additionally, it is considered a misleading commercial practice for a supplier to make a statement that the reviews come from verified buyers, without implementing control measures to that effect.
    ii. Submitting, soliciting, and buying fake/inaccurate reviews or tampering with reviews in any other way, in order to promote products, is explicitly recognized as a misleading commercial practice.

  • Generally:
    i. The use of a trustmark or quality mark without the corresponding license is recognized as a misleading act.
    ii. Providing online search results to consumers, without clearly communicating that such results are subject to paid advertising, aiming to promote the ranking of specific results, is recognized as a misleading commercial practice
    iii. The resale of event tickets to consumers is expressly prohibited if the supplier acquired them by using automated means (such as bots) to circumvent the required limit of the purchasable number of tickets allowed (also known as "scalping").
    iv. Marketing of dual quality products is explicitly prohibited, with limited exceptions.

 

 

4. New obligations and rights related to digital content and digital services. (Art.3j & 7a L.2251/1994)

  • In instances where the consumer withdraws from the agreement, a series of new supplier obligations concerning the processing of personal data and the use and/or distribution of any content which was provided or created by the consumer during his/her use of the digital content or digital service, are introduced.
  • Under specific conditions, a right for the supplier to deny the access of a consumer to the digital content/service or deactivate the user’s account, when the consumer has withdrawn from the agreement, is introduced.
  • Consumer rights to access the abovementioned digital content are introduced.
  • An obligation is imposed on the consumer not to further use or make available the digital content or service to third parties, after withdrawing from the agreement.
  • The possibility of introducing a Code of Conduct for businesses which produce/supply video games or other similar applications/digital services to minors is provided for in the new legislations. The purpose of the Code of Conduct will be to protect the rights and health of minor consumers. The Code may be issued following a decision of the Minister of Development and Investment, with the consent of the Committee for the Protection of Minors, and may include sanctions and penalties for non-compliance.

5. Changes related to sanctions and methods of redress (Art.9j & 13a L.2251/1994)

For any infringements related to advertising, as well as unfair, misleading, and/or aggressive commercial practices, the right of consumers or consumer associations to request a price reduction from the supplier or terminate their agreement is introduced, on top of their existing right to seek judicial redress.

At the same time, the potential fine amounts for violations of the Consumer Protection Law are increased, and new mitigating and aggravating factors are introduced for the imposition of the fine.

 

6. Other Changes (L.2251/1994)

  • The withdrawal period is extended, from 14 days to 30 days, in cases of agreements concluded as a result of an unscheduled visit to the consumer's home or during excursions organized by the supplier with the aim of promoting or selling products to consumers.
  • Additional requirements for the provision of information to consumers are introduced, for all types of consumer agreements.

 

 

 B) Changes regarding the provision of discounts/offers and the legal opening hours of stores

 1. Announcements of discounts/price reductions – Defining the scope of the concept of the “previous price” (Art.15 par.2a L.4177 / 2013)

When an announcement of price reductions is made, the supplier/seller is under an obligation to indicate the previous (initial) price on which the reduction is applied. The new provision stipulates that the “previous price” shall be defined as the lowest price offered by the supplier/seller:

  • For a period of at least 30 days before the discount/price reduction is applied.
  • In cases where a product is available on the market for less than 30 days, for a period of at least 10 days before the discount/price reduction is applied.

For instances of successive discounts, the “previous price” shall be the price that was in force before the first of the successive discounts was applied.

 

2. Changes in the calculation method and stricter sanctions introduced for violations of the provisions relating to discounts, offers, and the operation of stores on Sundays. (Art.21 L.4177/2013)

The new legislations doubles both the minimum and maximum amount of potential administrative fines imposed on businesses for violations:

  • Of obligations related to the provision of discounts and offers to the consumer.
  • Concerning inaccurate or misleading price reduction anouncements
  • Of the provisions on the operation of stores on Sundays.

The amount of the fines in some of the abovementioned cases may now rise to 2% of the business’ annual turnover, even for first time offenders.

It is also provided that competent authorities shall consider all relevant mitigating and aggravating factors before imposing a fine, and indicative list of such mitigating and aggravating factors is introduced.

 

 

For additional information or inquiries, please contact us.

 

 

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