There are more and more cases where a large number of individuals is harmed in a similar way. This happens in the field of consumer rights as well.
According to Slovenian law consumers are deemed natural persons who acquire or use goods and services for purposes outside their professional or gainful activity. In business-to-consumer relations, consumers are deemed a weaker party, which is also reflected in cases of violations of their rights. In consumer disputes in particular, the loss of an individual (i.e. a consumer) due to the illegal conduct of an undertaking is often too low to risk the high costs of judicial proceedings. Although a consumer has a certain legally protected right that has been infringed by an undertaking, a consumer usually does not seek judicial protection of his or her rights because of the disproportion between the value of the infringed right on the one side and the high court costs in case of judicial proceedings on the other.
On the other hand, the total value of such claims, which are otherwise low in the case of an individual consumer, can be very high. At the same time, this means that an undertaking violating the consumer rights has obtained a very high (illegal) benefit.
There are many different infringements in the field of consumer protection, where the typical examples are as follows:
- the undertaking unjustifiably prevents the exercise of a guarantee;
- the performed service or provided product has a defect; however, the seller is not willing to cure the defect or return the payment or replace the product with a new one;
- goods on sale are not marked with a pre-discount price and a discounted price;
- the seller firstly raised the price before its lowering, and then lowered the price and presented the difference as a discount;
- the undertaking’s contractual terms provide that the undertaking may withdraw from the contract in any case;
- the contract with the undertaking excludes the liability for damage caused by the undertaking intentionally or through negligence, or, for example, excludes or limits the undertaking's liability for clerical errors;
- the undertaking’s actions on the market are misleading or aggressive (for example, the undertaking’s advertisements of its products or services are misleading);
- the travel agency did not accept your timely withdrawal from the tourist travel contract or complaint after the end of the trip;
- in the case of a distance contract, contract concluded at home through an agent or online contract, the undertaking fails to respect the consumer's right to withdraw from the contract within 14 days.
These situations are only some of the many possible consumer right’s violations which, until recently, went unpunished in the vast majority of cases. Namely, with respect to consumers, the undertakings were aware that actions brought by individual consumers were not a real threat to them and therefore, nothing deterred them from further infringements.
However, the above has been changed with the introduction of a legal option on collective disputes in the field of consumer protection. Consumers can now file a so-called class action lawsuit:
- for claims arising from contractual relations with undertakings, as regulated by the relevant consumer protection regulations; or
- for claims arising from violations of consumers’ other rights provided by the consumer protection act.
Therefore, if you are a consumer and you recognise your case or case similar to yours within the above descriptions, and you believe that an undertaking has by the same or similar conduct harmed other consumers as well, please contact us.