Implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive in Spain

In Spain, local laws are implementing the Consumer Rights Directive (Directive).  The Spanish Laws on consumer protection and information (La Ley General para la Defensa de los Consumidores y Usarios (LGDCU) and La Ley de Servicios de la Sociedad de la Informacion (LSSI)) include articles to enforce this Directive.  They provide the duties of businesses regarding the enforcement of law and detail the consequences of breaching the Law.

Germany, England, France, and Austria have also passed legislation to ensure the implementation of the Directive into local law.  In these places, the Directive has been implemented or is in the process of implementation.  Switzerland and Poland are in the process of drafting legislation to implement the Directive in the near future.

As e-commerce becomes a more popular manner of sales, new regulations are coming into effect on a regular basis while changing the challenges that individual businesses face to implement any new regulations.  In Spain, regulations on stricter monitoring and enforcement have become effective, and consumer information must become more readily available.  All of these amendments mean that Spanish businesses have to adapt to comply with new regulations.  Some of the greatest challenges that businesses face in Spain include compliance with consumer laws and data protection while remaining competitive and ensuring timely delivery of goods to consumers.

In Spain, the LGDCU states that a business has 30 days in which to carry out the requirements of a contract.  It also states that the procedures for payment, delivery, and execution of the contract, including the dates on which the business undertakes to deliver the goods/perform the services must be included, clear, and understandable in the terms and conditions of the contract presented to the consumer before the completion of the contract.

Legislation on the delivery of goods is very similar in all of the other listed countries (Germany, Switzerland, England, France, Poland, and Austria).  Businesses are able to take different approaches on delivery and return costs.  In addition, businesses can consider in various ways the amount of time delivery takes as long as the consumer has received clear, comprehensive information about delivery and returns before execution of the contract.

In Spanish Law, the Right of Withdrawal exists in the LGDCU.  The withdrawal period expires 14 days after the consumer acquires physical possession of the goods.  If a consumer orders several goods at the same time, this period commences upon the delivery of the final product in the order.

Germany, Switzerland, and Poland do not have any clear legislation on the Right of Withdrawal unlike England, France, Spain, and Austria.  In all cases, the Right of Withdrawal (where applicable) commences upon the delivery of the product.  If there are multiple products in the same order, the period for the Right of Withdrawal commences upon the delivery of the final product.

Items excluded from the Right of Withdrawal in Spain and in all other listed countries include groceries and medicines (where they are easily perishable or the seal has been broken).  Poland does not yet have clear legislation on medicines, particularly as online sales of medicines are rare.  Legislation on the Right of Withdrawal in the purchase of undergarments is unclear; undergarments may be products unsuitable for return for hygiene reasons.   In France, whether to accept returns of undergarments falls to the seller’s discretion.  Notably, in Germany, the Right of Withdrawal does not exclude undergarments.  None of the listed countries excludes perfumes from the Right of Withdrawal.  In Spain, businesses may deviate from the Law and extend the period of the returns policy for the consumer.

In Spain, retailers normally demand for the return of goods in their original packaging (and in good condition).  However, according to a strict interpretation of Consumer Law, exercising the Right of Withdrawal is arguably a disproportionate requirement.  In Germany, Switzerland, England, France, Poland, and Austria, retailers cannot demand consumers to return the product in its original packaging, although retailers can make the request.  In England, retailers may deduct the refund where packaging that is not original or is damaged results in the diminished value of the goods.

This article is not considered as legal advice

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