Italy: New rules on consumer protection


published on 4 April 2022 | Reading time approx. 3 minutes

In 2019, the EU adopted Directive 2019/2161 (also known as the “Omnibus Directive”) to complete the so called “New deal for consumers”.



The Omnibus Directive amends Council Directive 93/13/EEC and Directives 98/6/EC, 2005/29/EC and 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council, enhancing the enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection rules, which shall be implemented by the Member States and enter into force as of 28 May 2022. 
The purpose of the Omnibus Directive is to update a coherent, yet outdated, regulatory framework in the light of the technological innovations witnessed in the recent years. 
In particular, its purpose is to (i) ensure greater transparency for on-line, also with regard to prices; (ii) remove excessive burdens on businesses; (iii) adequately inform users about the criteria for classifying offers on plat­forms, providing for more effective sanctions in the event of infringements.
The Omnibus Directive applies to traders engaged in online B2C transactions as well as to companies offering digital content or digital services to consumers “for free”, i.e. without any payment but in exchange for personal data. 
The key changes introduce by the Omnibus Directive mainly concerns the following aspects.

Amendment to Directive 93/13/EEC on unfair terms in consumer contracts

Increased enforcement powers: Introduction of substantial, GDPR-style, fines of at least 4 percent of a com­pany’s annual turnover in the relevant Member State. For cases in which a fine is to be imposed, but informa­tion on the company’s annual turnover is not available, Member States shall introduce the possibility to impose fines, the maximum amount of which shall be at least EUR 2 million.

Amendment to Directive 98/6/CE on consumer protection in the indication of the prices of products offered to consumers

Increased transparency in price reduction: In their price reduction (i.e. discount) announcement, traders shall indicate the prior price applied during a period of time not shorter than 30 days prior to the application of the price reduction.

Amendment to Directive 2005/29/EC on unfair B2C commercial practices in the internal market

Dual quality products as misleading practice: Marketing across EU Member States of goods as being iden­tical when, in reality, they have a significantly different composition or characteristics may mislead consumers and cause them to take a transactional decision that they would not have taken otherwise.
Ranking on marketplace: Traders enabling consumers to search for goods and services (e.g. travel, accommo­dation and leisure activities, etc.) shall inform consumers about the default main parameters determining the ranking of offers presented. This information must be easily, prominently and directly available to the consu­mer. 
Fake reviews and endorsements: Traders shall be prohibited from submitting fake consumer reviews and endorsements, such as ‘likes’ on social media, or commissioning others to do so in order to promote their products, as well as from manipulating consumer reviews and endorsements, such as publishing only positive reviews and deleting the negative one. 
Legal remedies for consumers: Introduction of a right to individual remedies for consumers harmed by unfair commercial practices. Consumers shall have access to proportionate and effective remedies, including com­pen­sation for damage suffered and, where relevant, a price reduction or the termination of the contract.

Amendment to Directive 2011/83/EU on consumer rights

Increased transparency requirements: Consumers shall be informed among others (i) if a price presented to them has been personalised as a result of an automated decision-making, (ii) about how offers are ranked in a search, (iii) if they are entering a contract with a professional trader or a private individual, and (iv) whether consumer protection law applies.
These legal changes will require all online market players to update their contractual documents accordingly. 
Thus, if you are an online trader offering your goods and services to consumers based in the EU, you should understand the legal changes, ascertain which aspects of your business will be affected by the Omnibus Directive, and take appropriate action, although the Italian legislator is late in implementing the directive. 
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