Volume 48 (2011) / Issue 4
When the European Commission initiated the Common Frame of Reference process, it aimed, in particular, at a revision of the acquis communautaire in the field of consumer contract law. However, such revision has not, to date, been undertaken. The Draft Common Frame of Reference (DCFR) is marked by a largely uncritical attitude vis-à-vis the acquis. The same will be true, it must be feared, for the "optional instrument" to be developed by an "expert group" on that basis by mid-2011. The Proposal for a "horizontal" Directive on Consumer Rights submitted by the Commission in October 2008 did not benefit from a critical revision of the acquis either. The authors of the present paper have attempted to remedy this deficiency by an investigation of the key issues involved: the proper scope and effectiveness of mandatory law, the policing of not individually negotiated unfair contract terms, rights of withdrawal, the unwinding of consumer contracts following the exercise of a right of withdrawal, and information duties. This paper presents in English the main conclusions of a more comprehensive German study, and in the form of 52 propositions, grouped by subject matter and elucidated, in most cases, by brief comments. We thus hope to initiate a discussion on the reform of European consumer contract law that goes beyond a harmonizing generalization of individual rules, which emphasizes intellectual coherence as well as consistency of concepts, policies, and evaluations. A particular focus is on rational justifications for consumer contract rules and on how such rules should be formulated in order to serve the economic purposes they are intended to serve.
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