Key facts of the case:
The Complainant’s predecessor and the defendant had concluded a contract on connection in compliance with Article 43 of the Law No. 610/2003 on electronic communications, which bound the Defendant to pay for the activation and provision of services (i.e. telephone charges and fixed monthly fees). When the Defendant was in arrears with payments, the Complainant asked the district court to order the Defendant to pay due payments along with a stipulated damage. The district court found that the stipulated damage clause in the consumer contract concluded between the Complainant’s predecessor and the Defendant was objectively capable of harming the latter, which is why it refused to award it to the former. The court decided on unacceptability of the contractual clause on grounds that the Complainant’s predecessor offered its services to consumers in the form of standardized contracts that had been drafted in advance and therefore did not give consumers any chance to influence their terms; the same applied to the stipulated damage clause, which bound the consumers to pay the stipulated damage in the full amount regardless of what time period of the contract had elapsed.
EU member states policies shall ensure the high standard of consumer protection (Article 38 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights). It is the unacceptable conditions and repeated lodging of immoral claims ensuing from unfair contractual terms that may discourage consumers from purchasing goods and thus reduce the level of their economic freedom and quality of life. Consumption represents a high share of GDP and the protection of consumers’ economic interests is therefore particularly important (Article 169 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).