Designed to provide an efficient avenue for the collective redress of consumer interests, these representation actions are currently the subject of a bill that has been adopted by both chambers of Parliament and awaits the president’s promulgation. In this regard, the objective of the bill is to deter illegal practices and minimize harm to consumers, thus strengthening mechanisms for protecting collective consumer interests rather than exclusively at the individual level.
The forthcoming law aims to transpose the European directive on consumer rights into national law, even though the deadline has been surpassed, with the transposition expected to have been completed by December 2022.
Essentially, the bill grants qualified entities—whether public authorities or private but independent organizations — the opportunity to request, on behalf of multiple consumers, the cessation or prohibition of unlawful conduct by a trader. In this context, the remedies that can be sought by these qualified entities encompass obtaining compensation, repairs, replacements, price reductions, contract terminations, or refunds of the amount paid, as appropriate. The goal is to ensure a high level of protection for the interests of individuals who have suffered damages both nationally and across borders due to violations.
The collective representation of consumer interests by the qualified entity can only be carried out if each consumer provides consent in writing within 30 days of initiating legal action. Granting consent implies the impossibility for these consumers to bring another action against the same trader with the same subject matter, both individually and collectively.
For clarity, the bill defines the concept of a “qualified entity” as any organization or public body representing consumer interests and designated by a European Union member state qualified to initiate representation actions in accordance with this law. Specifically, these will be consumer associations, including those with members from at least two EU member states. Additionally, in areas where they have responsibilities, qualified entities can include authorities and public bodies with responsibilities in enforcing laws related to contracts with traders, professionals, or service providers, among others.
Traders and qualified entities have the option to negotiate the nature of the compensation to be awarded to affected consumers. If the result of negotiations is deemed unfair, the court can reject it. Otherwise, the agreements become binding on both the trader and the qualified entity.
Finally, the bill also outlines sanctions that can be imposed on traders—fines of up to 100,000 lei—if they fail to comply with court decisions resulting from an action brought by a qualified entity seeking to protect the collective interests of consumers.
However, the bill is not currently applicable. To have legal effects, it must first be promulgated by presidential decree and subsequently published in the Official Gazette Publishing House.
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