Entrepreneur equal to the Consumer – Amendments to the Consumer protection law

At the beginning of next year, significant changes to the consumer law resulting from the Act of 31 July 2019 amending certain acts in order to reduce regulatory burdens [polish: o zmianie niektórych ustaw w celu ograniczenia obciążeń regulacyjnych] will come into force. It will include changes in the Civil Code and the Act of 30 May 2014 on Consumer Rights.

According to the changes, consumer protection will be extended to entrepreneurs who are natural persons and conclude a contract with another professional entity, directly connected with his or her economic activity, but not of “professional nature”. It is not clear how to understand the term “professional nature of the contract”. The Act states that this is to be based on information entered into the Central Registration and Information on Business [polish: Centralna Ewidencja I Informacja o Działalności Gospodarczej].

For example, new rights will be available to an accountant who will buy a printer or a car mechanic who will buy the property in order to run his business on it. This is based on the assumption that when concluding contracts outside the industry or specialisation in which they operate on a daily basis, traders are not professionals but rather, like consumers, a weaker party to the contract and should be better protected.

Firstly, the new regulations refer to the application of protection from unlawful contractual provisions. Thus a contract between entrepreneurs will not be binding, to the extent that it is not individually agreed and violates the interests of one of the parties.

Secondly, the provisions governing consumer rights under the warranty for defects in goods will also generally apply to entrepreneurs. However, there will be still a possibility to extend, limit or exclude warranty liability in contracts concluded between professionals, regardless of whether the contract is of professional nature for them. 

Lastly, under the new provision of article 38a of the Consumer Rights Act, an entrepreneur will be able to exercise the right of withdrawal from a distance or off-premises contract, without giving any reason, within 14 days of concluding a contract or receiving an item.   

Due to the provisions passed in connection with the prevention and combating of the coronavirus pandemic, the entry into force of the above amendments was postponed until 1 January 2021. Until then, it is worthwhile to pay attention to standard contracts and rules and regulations of online stores used in professional trade. Failure to amend them in order for them to comply with new regulations will make it possible to declare them to be unlawful contractual provisions.

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