Taking Collective Interest of Consumers Seriously: A View from Poland
EUI Working Paper No. LAW 2008/26
39 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2009
Date Written: October 2008
An increased focus on consumer collective redress marks the shift from substance- to enforcement-oriented perspective in the EU consumer policy. The EU action in this regard is currently at the stage of feasibility study but it seems to be moving towards a mechanism protecting collective rather than individual interests of consumers. In spite of these developments, a comprehensive strategy towards the concept of collective interest of consumers is missing at the EU level. We argue that a relative disregard of the procedural functions which the concept performs, as exemplified also by the already existing EU instruments for consumer redress, may lead to under-enforcement of consumer rights. As a possible remedy we put forward a proposal how to make the concept of consumer collective interest a workable tool. From an evolutionary perspective, we also examine how the concept of public interest was construed by the Polish judiciary during the socialist regime to prove that the way the public interest was conceptualised in the past affects the present understanding of the consumers' collective interest. As Poland represents a New Member State and has experienced economic and political transformation, our case study demonstrates how political and economic conditions shape the concept of collective interest. The overall goal of the paper is to show that clear understanding of the idea of collective interest of consumers, which currently varies from one MS to another, is essential for the creation of the internal market in collective redress.
Keywords: consumer protection, EU law, Poland, European contract law
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