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Czechia / Constitutional Court / II. ÚS 78/19

P.B.

Deciding Body type:
National Court/Tribunal
Type:
Decision
Decision date:
24/01/2020
Key facts of the case:
The Plaintiff ordered proofreading of his thesis online from a proofreading company, but he was not satisfied with the result, not even with the subsequently modified version of it. Therefore, the Plaintiff withdrew from the contract and refused to pay the fee. The proofreading company filed a lawsuit and the district court ruled that it is not possible to withdraw from a contract if the consideration (the work which the proofreeding company did for the Plaintiff) can no longer be returned, so the Plaintiff must pay the fee. Since the amount in dispute was less than 10 000 CZK (EUR 383), the judgment could not be appealed. The Plaintiff filed a constitutional complaint and invoked his right to consumer protection. The Constitutional Court pointed out that the right to comsumer protection is not explicitly embodied in the Constitution. However, the district court could have applied Article 38 of the Charter to ensure a high level of consumer protection, while applying relevant provisions of the Civil Code.1 A consumer’s right to withdraw from a contract is especially important in the case of a contract concluded online and may be eliminated only in cases that fall under § 1837 a) and l) of the Civil Code (Article 16 of the Directive 2011/83), which do not apply to the Plaintiff’s case.
Key legal question raised by the Court:
Did the district court ensure the plaintiff’s right to consumer protection and a right to a fair trial?
Outcome of the case:
The Constitutional Court said that the district court should have – in the light of Article 38 of the Charter - applied those provisions of the Civil Code that relate to the protection of consumers and thereby upheld the Plaintiff’s right to consumer protection. Since the relevant provisions of the Civil Code are a transposition of Directive 2011/83, the Charter applies. The Plaintiff has the right to withdraw from the contract. Thus, the judgment of the district court is a breach of the right to a fair trial.