Malta recently transposed the Directive on Consumer Rights which carried a transposition deadline of 13 December 2013 by means of the Consumer Rights Regulations. This directive replaces the directive on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts and the directive on the protection of consumers in respect of distance contracts negotiated away from business premises.
The directive on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees as well as the directive on unfair terms in consumer contracts remains in force.
The scope of the directive, and thus the regulations, is all contracts concluded between a consumer and a trader. The regulations contain core information to be provided by traders prior to the conclusion of consumer contracts, which are not distance or off-premises contracts while also laying down the information requirements for distance and off-premises contracts, including information about the functionality and interoperability of digital content. It regulates the right of withdrawal (length of the withdrawal period, procedure and effects of the withdrawal), including a standard withdrawal form that must be provided by traders and may be used by consumers to notify the withdrawal from the contract.
Finally, the regulations provide for rules on delivery and passing of risk applicable to contracts for the sale of goods as well as certain rules applicable to all types of consumer contracts. These include rules on the fees for the use of certain means of payment (e.g. credit or debit cards) and regarding the charges for calling telephone hotlines operated by traders as well as a prohibition to use pre-ticked boxes on website for charging extra payments in addition to the remuneration for the trader’s main contractual obligation.
Administrative fines of not less than €500 and not more than €47,000 may be imposed on any person who fails to comply with any of the provisions of these regulations.
It is pertinent to note that these Consumer Rights Regulations come into force on 13 June 2014.