Law 4933/2022, Government Gazette Α 99/20.05.2022 (hereinafter the “Law”) in line with Directive (EU) 2019/2161 (“Amending 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 as regards the better enforcement and modernisation of Union consumer protection rules”) was published on 20.05.22 and introduces a variety of new provisions in the current framework for Consumer Protection. Specifically, the Law amends the current provisions of articles 15 & 21 (3) of Law 4177/2013 (Rules Regulating the Market of Products and the Provision of Services), as well as provisions of current Law 2251/1994 on Consumer Protection (Articles 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 13), while it enhances the transparency in the wider context of contracts concluded with consumers.
The aforementioned provisions can be summarised as follows:
I. Stricter sanctions on discounts, offers & operation of stores on Sundays (article 21 of Law 4177/2013)
According to the new provision, the minimum amount that is imposed as a fine on traders/suppliers who trade with consumers is doubled in cases of violations of Law 4177/2013, while certain aggravating & mitigating circumstances are introduced which must be taken into account before imposing any fine.
II. Clarification of the concept of previous price in the announcements of offers / discounts (article 15 of Law 4177/2013)
In case of announcements of offers or discounts made by the supplier, the lowest price is defined as the lowest announced price within the last 30 days. The aforementioned provision also introduces the case of successive discounts, for which it is clarified that the initial price of the product before any successive reductions must be indicated as “previous/initial price”.
III. New Definitions (article 9a of Law 2251/ 1994)
The concept of “marketplace”, “product” - which now includes the digital service and the digital product - as well as the concept of product “classification” in the online marketplace are introduced.
IV. Misleading acts (article 9d of Law 2251/1994)
The case of "Dual Quality Products", in which a commercial product is promoted as identical to a good that is traded in other Member States, while the said product has clearly different composition or characteristics, is added as misleading act. However, such promotion is permitted when it is justified by legitimate and objective factors.
V. Misleading omissions (article 9e of Law 2251/1994)
New consumer information obligations are added in the currently described misleading omissions made by traders/suppliers; an amendment that strengthens a wider transparency framework. In particular, the supplier must hereinafter inform the consumer about the identity of his/her counterparty, i.e. whether the latter is a trader or a consumer (B2C or C2C relationship), as the respective consumer protection rights will only be applicable in case the counterparty is a trader.
In addition, the consumer must be informed about the criteria that determine the ranking of products displayed in the marketplace, as well as whether the supplier has taken any measures to control the origin of the ratings that appear to the consumer. For example, the supplier should declare whether he/she uses a certain mechanism to check whether the displayed ratings come from consumers who have actually used the product or they are posted because of a sponsorship.
VI. Misleading commercial practices (article 9f of Law 2251/1994)
The use of a trustmark, quality mark or relevant sign without the respective license, as well as the provision of search results following the submission of an online search query by the consumer, without explicitly announcing any sponsorship or paid advertising in order to achieve a higher product ranking among such search results are added.
In addition, a misleading commercial practice is now explicitly defined as the submission or the assignment to another legal or natural person of the submission of false evaluations or positive reviews or of the distortion of any evaluations or positive consumer reviews, in order to promote specific products.
VII. Contracts concluded in online market-places, off-premises & distance contracts (articles 3-3l of Law 2251/1994)
The Law adds to the current legal framework several information obligations that must be followed by suppliers and provided to consumers in marketplaces. The consumers must be informed, according to Law, about their rights, depending on whether there is a B2C or C2C relationship, as well as about the division of obligations related to the contract between the third party and the marketplace provider. It is also worth mentioning that the aforementioned amending provisions extend the period of the consumer's right of withdrawal from 14 to 30 days for contracts concluded in the context of unscheduled visits by the supplier to the consumer's home or in the context of promotional excursions.
VIII. Stricter sanctions (article 13a of Law 2251/1994)
The new Law introduces stricter fines which are imposed in cases of violations of Law 2251/1994 on Consumer Protection. Such fines, which ranged from 1,500 to 1,000,000 Euros, are now set at 5,000 to 1,500,000 Euros. Furthermore, a list of indicative criteria for aggravating and mitigating circumstances that should henceforth be taken into account for the imposition of fines is added.
IX. Protection of minors (article 7a of Law 2251/1994)
The new law finally regulates several issues regarding the protection of minor consumers. By virtue of the enabling provision of para. 4a, article 7a of L. 2251/1994, the adoption of a Code of Conduct with regard to businesses which offer the use of electronic games and other digital applications in areas with access to minors, as well as the imposition of penalties in the event of infringement of said Code of Conduct and the authorities for carrying out respective audits and penalties are regulated.