Information Disclosure about the Quality of Goods - Duty or Encouragement?
INFORMATION RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS: A CHALLENGE FOR PARTY AUTONOMY AND TRANSACTIONAL FAIRNESS, Howells, G., Janssen, A., and Schulze, R., eds., Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004
20 Pages Posted: 20 Feb 2009
Date Written: November 30, 2004
A well-known problem for consumers is the difficulty of evaluating the quality of goods before making a purchase and using the goods. This problem has many facets: consumers may not be able to establish the overall level of quality to be expected from a particular brand, or product sector; furthermore, consumers will usually find it difficult to establish the quality of the particular item they wish to purchase. Most legal systems recognize this problem and provide some protection to consumers, offering at least a basic set of rights for consumers who have bought faulty goods. In the Member States of the European Union, this area of law is now governed by Directive 99/44/EC on the Sale of Consumer Goods and Associated Guarantees (1999), OJ L 171/12 ('the Consumer Sales Directive'), which established a common set of rules in this sphere. Although the Directive does not make it obligatory for a seller (or, indeed, a manufacturer) to provide information to a consumer about the quality of goods, it is nevertheless possible to characterize many of the core provisions as information-based. This chapter will examine to what extent the Directive does address the information problems regarding the quality of goods. It will first review the general problem of inadequate information about quality. It will then consider the relevant provisions of the Consumer Sales Directive and consider the extent to which this encourages sellers to disclose quality defects to consumers. There will also be a brief analysis of whether above-average quality could be communicated to consumers through additional guarantees and to what extent this is supported by the Directive.
Keywords: Consumer Law, Sale of Goods, Information, Disclosure
JEL Classification: K12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation