Contract law and the Digital Single Market: Towards a new EU online consumer sales law?

15-09-2015

In its Digital Single Market Strategy, unveiled in May 2015, the Commission has promised to come up with a revised proposal for a Common European Sales Law by the end of the year. More indications have been given the Commission in an Inception Impact Assessment, published in July 2015. The debate on the revamped proposal will have to address at least five crucial issues. Firstly, the legal form – whether the future online sales law will be a regulation or a directive? Secondly, if the legal form of a directive is chosen, whether total harmonisation or minimum harmonisation would be most appropriate, taking into account the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality? Thirdly, whether it would be sufficient for the instrument to regulate cross-border trade, or should it also extend to purely domestic online transactions? A fourth issue regards the 'country of origin principle' – should traders be allowed to rely on their domestic law when selling to consumers abroad? How would that fit with the current system of Rome I and Brussels Ia Regulations? Finally, the debate must focus on the content of the revamped proposal. Should it be copy-pasted from the original CESL, or perhaps tailor-made to online transactions specifically, where both consumers and traders have different interests and expectations than in offline transactions?

In its Digital Single Market Strategy, unveiled in May 2015, the Commission has promised to come up with a revised proposal for a Common European Sales Law by the end of the year. More indications have been given the Commission in an Inception Impact Assessment, published in July 2015. The debate on the revamped proposal will have to address at least five crucial issues. Firstly, the legal form – whether the future online sales law will be a regulation or a directive? Secondly, if the legal form of a directive is chosen, whether total harmonisation or minimum harmonisation would be most appropriate, taking into account the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality? Thirdly, whether it would be sufficient for the instrument to regulate cross-border trade, or should it also extend to purely domestic online transactions? A fourth issue regards the 'country of origin principle' – should traders be allowed to rely on their domestic law when selling to consumers abroad? How would that fit with the current system of Rome I and Brussels Ia Regulations? Finally, the debate must focus on the content of the revamped proposal. Should it be copy-pasted from the original CESL, or perhaps tailor-made to online transactions specifically, where both consumers and traders have different interests and expectations than in offline transactions?