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PROTECTION OF CONSUMERS AND USERS

If a Spanish resident buys a good or hires a service from a business established in the UK, what legal system is applicable, and what judicial body has jurisdiction?

European law on consumer protection will continue to apply to the UK company only if the business is physically established in Spain or orientates its sales (for example, by phone or the internet) towards consumers resident in Spain. In any other case, a business will be considered as belonging to a third (non-EU) country, and Community law will not be applicable. As a result, the consumer will be subject to national UK law.

With respect to jurisdiction in case of a possible conflict derived from the contract, the consumer may only file a complaint against the business with the judicial body in his or her country of residence if the business is established there physically or orientates its activity to consumers resident in our country.

What will happen with the conflicts that may arise between businesses established in the UK and consumers resident in Spain as a result of entering into a consumer contract?

With respect to the possibility of accessing the European online dispute resolution (ODR) platform to present a claim resulting from a consumer contract:

  • Consumers resident in Spain will not be able file claims against businesses established in the UK through this platform. Similarly, UK consumers will not be able to file claims against businesses established in our country through the platform.
  • Alternative dispute resolution entities in the UK that have been "notified" will no longer be able to intervene to resolve disputes arising with consumers or businesses of Member States, including Spain. Consumer dispute resolution entities notified by the Spain to the European Commission will similarly not be able to intervene to resolve conflicts that arise with consumers or businesses in the UK.

Finally, the European Consumer Centres will also not provide support or advice services in cross-border conflicts between consumers and residents in Spain and businesses established in the UK, or between consumers resident in the UK and businesses established in Spain.

What will happen with the alternative dispute resolution entities notified by the UK to the European Commission and that until now were included on the list of accredited entities in the European Union that could be chosen by the consumer to resolve the dispute at the time of presenting a claim on the ODR platform?

The eleven bodies notified so far by the UK and published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 30/09/2016 will be removed from it (an update of the notified bodies will be published in April 2019).

What happens if I have to file a small claim against a business whose head office is in the UK?

Consumers will no longer be able to make use of the European small claims procedure governed by Regulation (EC) No. 861/2007 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 July 2007, simplifying and speeding up cross-border small claims procedures, reducing costs and making it simpler to obtain recognition and enforcement of decisions issued in another Member State.

What happens to my rights as a consumer resident in Spain and a citizen of the EU if after Brexit I buy travel package or a travel service linked to a company with a head office in the UK and that does not orientate its activity towards our country?

The purchase contract will not be covered by Directive (EU) 2015/2302 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 November 2015, on travel packages and linked travel arrangements, or to the transposing legislation in the Spanish legal system. However, with respect to protection against insolvency and information relating to linked travel arrangements, it will be applicable to businesses in the UK that orientate their activity by any means towards one or more Member States, including Spain, under Regulation (EU) No. 593/2008 and Regulation (EU) No. 1215/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council.

With respect to buying travel packages and linked travel services, will there continue to be mutual recognition of protection against insolvency between (which implies, among other things, acceptance by a Member State of all protection arranged by a business in the Member State of its location) between the Member States, obviously including Spain and the UK?

No, mutual recognition of protection against insolvency will only be applied to businesses established in Spain or any Member State of the EU; it is not therefore applicable to businesses established in the UK. These businesses must guarantee protection against insolvency in accordance with the legislation of each Member State in which they sell their services or offer them for sale. If a UK business puts this kind of service on the market in Spain it must establish a guarantee in accordance with national law.

Non official translation