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The Transformation of Consumer Law in Times of Crisis: The Ex Officio Control of Unfair Contract Terms

  • Stephanie LawEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Ius Gentium: Comparative Perspectives on Law and Justice book series (IUSGENT, volume 70)

Abstract

Over the past decade, that is to say, post-financial crisis, national courts have identified rules of national civil procedure that they understand operate to impede the application of EU consumer law rules, as transposed into domestic law. The potential incompatibility of these national rules with EU law has come to the fore in the adjudication of disputes concerning consumer regulatory needs in consumer contracting for sales, services and credit. In responding to these references, the ECJ has rendered a line of judgments in an effort to establish procedural safeguards for the enforcement and protection of EU consumer rights. This contribution critically analyses one procedural mechanism, namely the establishment of the power and subsequent obligation on national judges to examine compliance with EU consumer protection rules ex officio. The contribution begins by providing a brief outline of the framework of EU and national consumer law, and the character of consumer rights enforcement. It then examines the tool (namely the preliminary reference procedure) by which the courts have engaged in the development of the ex officio regulation of EU consumer law, and outlines the key ECJ case law resulting therefrom. The contribution then evaluates the key shifts in national judicial cultures to which this mechanism of procedural protection gives rise and assesses the reach, limits and problematic dimensions of ex officio control in ensuring the effective and equivalent protection of consumer rights.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Planck Institute LuxembourgLuxembourgLuxembourg

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