Liability for Independent Intermediaries in EU Consumer Law

30 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2015 Last revised: 10 Dec 2015

See all articles by Anne de Vries

Anne de Vries

Tilburg University - Private Law Department

Date Written: September 3, 2015


Liability for independent intermediaries, commonly referred to as brokers, is an issue highly relevant in modern trade. Despite the many harmonization efforts in EU consumer law it is often unclear what the rights and obligations of parties are in case they trade through independent intermediaries. It can be highly uncertain whether remedies are available against traders in case an intermediary has breached EU consumer law. In light of this legal uncertainty this paper will discuss who carries the risk for an independent intermediary’s breaches of (EU) consumer law; the consumer or the trader. It will discuss two different legislative techniques that can be found in EU consumer law when dealing with liability for intermediaries. Firstly, there are various indications that the ‘trader’ definition in EU consumer law intends to provide for the trader's liability for independent intermediaries. In the second part of the paper, EU travel law will be discussed as another way of dealing with the topic. Rather than providing for a general liability rule in the ‘trader’ definition, this body of law tends to deal with the matter on a case-by-case basis in the individual provisions. In addition, it provides for a striking example of the current lack of consistency regarding liability for intermediaries in EU private law.

Keywords: Liability, EU law, consumer, trader, intermediary, broker

Suggested Citation

de Vries, Anne, Liability for Independent Intermediaries in EU Consumer Law (September 3, 2015). Tilburg Law School Research Paper No. 06/2015. Available at SSRN: or

Anne De Vries (Contact Author)

Tilburg University - Private Law Department ( email )


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