"Transparency: where art thou in consumer protection?" on June 27

Director of the CELS, Joasia Luzak, organised an international symposium "Transparency: where art thou in consumer protection?" on June 27.

Director of the CELS, Joasia Luzak, has organised a 1-day international symposium "Transparency: where art thou in consumer protection?" on Tuesday, June 27th. The topic of the symposium directly relates to the Open Research Area-funded project that Professor Luzak is conducting "The ABC of Online Disclosure Duties: Towards a More Uniform Assessment of the Transparency of Consumer Information in Europe". 

While many contractual and consumer law provisions in both European and national laws require information that is being provided to consumers to be provided in "plain and intelligible language" or in "concise and transparent manner" etc, legislators usually fail to specify what requirements traders need to meet in order for their information to be considered transparently provided by authorities.

During the symposium, Professor E. Terryn (KU Leuven) discussed some of the results of the REFIT exercise showing differences in understanding of transparency in various Member States under the implemented Unfair Contract Terms Directive. These differences lead e.g. to different sanctions for the lack of transparency in different national laws. Professor A-L. Sibony (UC Louvain) talked about transparency being embedded in the fairness test under the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive scheme, esp. in the definition of the misleading omissions. She discussed how behavioural insights could lead to making provision of information more transparent, as well as issues with timeliness of provision of information and its complexity that may impact transparency. Professor A. Harcourt (University of Exeter) discussed transparency in media ownership and how it varies from Member State to Member State what rules on disclosure of e.g. beneficial owners are applied. She emphasised the role of civil society organisations in gathering information on media ownership, as well as lack of free public access to most of this data. Ch. Docksey (Director of the Office of European Data Protection Supervisor) presented the new rules of the General Data Protection Regulation that will start binding as of May 2018. Pursuant to these new rules processing data in a transparent manner is an explicit obligation of data controllers, for which they will be held accountable. The new rules draw therefore a clear link between transparency and accountability, which hopefully will be easy to enforce. Professor A. Wulf (SRH Hochschule Berlin) presented the framework of the ORA-funded project that he is conducting together with J. Luzak. He discussed the setup of the empirical and comparative research that is currently being conducted. Finally, Dr K. Noussia (University of Exeter) talked about transparency in insurance consumer contracts, which are often so complex and can have serious consequences for consumers financial situation that transparency of their provisions is crucial. She emphasised the importance of both formal and substantive transparency, as well as the requirements of intelligibility, determinateness and correctness of insurance policy provisions in order for them to be assessed as being provided in a plain and intelligible language. 

Date: 27 June 2017

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