Protection of consumer rights in construction works contracts
In the opinion of many construction companies, a construction works contract with a consumer may contain the same provisions as a contract with a client – an entrepreneur. Nothing could be more wrong. The Act on consumer rights of 30/05/2014 implementing the provisions of Directive 2011/83 / EU of 25/10/2011, unlike the provisions of the Directive itself, does not contain a provision excluding its application for construction works contracts.
According to art. 4 paragraph 1 and 2 of the Act on Consumer Rights, its provisions do not apply to:
- contracts for the establishment, acquisition and transfer of immovable property or other rights to immovable property,
- lease agreements regarding premises for residential purposes (with certain exceptions specified in the Act);
- contracts for financial services, except for financial services contracts concluded at a distance to which certain provisions of the Act apply.
This means that an entrepreneur concluding a construction works contract with a consumer should, inter alia:
- fulfill the information obligations set out in the Act to the consumer regarding the rights and obligations of the parties to the contract;
- respond to consumer complaints within 30 days of its receipt, on pain of accepting the complaint
- comply with the consumer’s right to withdraw from a distance or off-premises contract. The right of withdrawal may be exercised by the consumer within 14 days of the date of the contract without giving reasons and incurring additional costs, except for the obligation to pay for the works carried out by the contractor of construction works until the day of withdrawal from the contract, provided that the construction contractor started the work before the expiry withdrawal period at the express request of the consumer.
Importantly, the consumer cannot waive the rights conferred on him by law. Contract provisions less favorable to the consumer (even if entered into the contract on the initiative or with the consent of the consumer) will be considered null and void, and the provisions of the Act will apply in their place.
In addition, the failure of the construction contractor to comply with the provisions of the Consumer Rights Act, e.g. by using a standard contract containing provisions contrary to this Act, may expose the entrepreneur to the risk of control and sanctions on the part of the President of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection.
Do you need support in the preparation or verification of a works contract, also in terms of compliance with consumer protection provisions? Contact us.