Attention, Shoppers!

A long-awaited new legal regulation on complaints brings major changes.

The consumer can still claim for defects within 24 months. However, the consumer will now have 12 months during which the defect will be presumed to have existed at the time of receipt. This means that the seller has to prove that the goods were free from defects at the time of delivery. After that period, the burden of proof will shift to the consumer. In many cases that will mean that the consumer has to prove in a complicated way, by means of an expert opinion, that the item was already defective at the time of receipt.

The fact that the goods do not have a sufficient service life that can reasonably be expected is also now considered a defect.  Some lawyers believe that the seller will continue to be legally liable for defects within two years, regardless of whether they existed at the time of receipt. However, the case-law of the courts will be decisive for the interpretation of these provisions.

The amendment abolishes the statutory guarantee of quality and leaves it only on a voluntary basis. This does not, however, mean that consumers‘ rights are restricted to the statutory liability for defects. With a quality guarantee, the seller guarantees that the item will retain certain characteristics for a specific period of time. It may be granted by the seller for any period of time and may relate to defects determined by the seller himself. A voluntary guarantee may lead to a refund of the purchase price, replacement of the item, repair or other service. So what does all that mean for the consumer? In the first year it will be presumed that the goods were already defective when they were received, unless the seller proves otherwise. In the second year the buyer will have to prove that the goods were defective. In addition to that, the seller will continue to be able to offer customers a guarantee, the parameters of which he can freely determine. As some legal conclusions are still diverging on the exact interpretation of the amendment, only time will tell what these new rules will fully manifest themselves in practice.

Mgr. Ing. Lenka Charvátová

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