Tuesday, 12 September 2017

CJEU in Schottelius: a sales contract under Directive 99/44 is... a sales contract.

Back to school for students and us teachers, but also back to work for the CJEU. 
Last week, the Court had to decide on a case allegedly involving the Directive on Consumer Sales and Associated Guarantees of 1999 - Schottelius, or C-247/16

Under the Consumer Sales Directive, the seller of a defective good must perform a repair request within a "reasonable time", after which inaction on their side authorizes the purchaser to seek alternative remedies. Under general contract law, on the other hand, the creditor of an outstanding obligation usually first has to set a deadline for the debtor to comply. Failing that, they have no recourse against the debtor for any expenses they may have undergone as a result of the latter's failure to comply. 

In the case before the CJEU, the contract at stake concerned the renovation of a swimming pool- a contract that national private laws usually would identify as one of "services". The Directive, on the other hand, only applies to sales contracts. 

The referring court asked whether a general principle of European contract law should be deduced from the Directive, according to which in consumer contracts the setting of a term for performance is not required when the consumer is acting as the creditor. 

The Court of Justice answered that, even though the definition of "sales" under the Directive does not need to coincide with the various definitions given under national contract laws, and it even expressly seeks to deviate from those by including contracts that comprise the delivery and installation of certain goods (see article 1.4 of the Directive), a contract to carry out renovation works such as the one as stake in this case cannot fall under the remit of the Directive. 

Nice try from the referring court, though!

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