On 17 February, the European Parliaments Committee on Legal Affairs convened a workshop on New rules for contracts in the digital environment with the participation of EU National Parliaments. The workshop took place in Brussels and was broadcast through a live web stream.
The aim of the workshop was to shed light on the two recent Commission proposals, on the online sale of tangible goods and on the online sale of digital content, aimed at better protecting consumers who shop online across the European Union. The agenda centred on a number of highly topical issues relating to these newly introduced proposals.
ELI Council member, Professor Hugh Beale, discussed the scope of application and general approach of the new rules for contracts in the digital environment and ELI Council member, Professor Bénédicte Fauvarque-Cosson, discussed other contractual issues for the supply of digital content: modification of the contract and termination of long-term contracts. The workshop ended with a wrap-up speech by ELI Vice-President, Professor Christiane Wendehorst, who summarized key points of the discussions.
Some recurring themes of the workshop, that were mentioned by many speakers and interventions, were the implications of the targeted harmonization approach and its effect on both consumers and businesses; the fragmentation of consumer contract law and the divide that the proposals might produce between online contracts on the one hand and face-to-face contracts on the other; that rules on time limits require further discussions; and concerns about the criteria for establishing contract conformity.
In her summary, Vice-President Wendehorst noted that all speakers were in unanimity on the main objectives that the instruments should aim at, but since this is still an on-going legislation process, there remains an opportunity to improve and amend parts of the proposals.
The ELI has been working on these topics for several years and the ELI working group on the Digital Single Market will soon come forward with concrete suggestions on how some of these problems will be solved. More information on the project can be found here.