New and amended provisions on conformity of goods, defect in goods and related remedies as well as on the sale of digital content and digital services have been introduced to the Finnish Consumer Protection Act (38/1978, as amended) by the national transposition of the EU’s Sale of Goods Directive (2019/771) and the Digital Content Directive (2019/770). Both directives are based on the EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy, which aims to give consumers and businesses better access to online goods and services by improving the basis for cross-border trade within the EU. We provide in the following a short summary on the key changes.
New provisions on conformity and non-conformity of goods
The consumer’s position with regard to burden of proof and remedies in case of defective goods is strengthened. If a defect occurs in the goods within one year of receipt, the defect will be presumed to have existed at the time of purchase, unless, for example, the presumed standard durability of the goods is less than this one-year period. Before said amendment, the so-called assumption period was only six months. In case of defective goods, the consumer can subsequently choose whether to have the goods replaced or repaired, except if there is an insurmountable obstacle or if it would lead to unreasonable costs for the seller. This possibility to choose replacement has not previously existed in the Finnish legislation. In addition, if the repairment is unsuccessful, the consumer is entitled to a price reduction or cancellation in order to prevent continuous repairment and replacement cycles.
When it comes to second-hand goods, the current legislation that allows second-hand goods to be sold “as is” is removed and the conformity of second-hand goods will henceforward be assessed on the same basis as new goods.
Among the key changes is also the introduction of provisions on goods with digital elements essential for performing the intended function of the goods. In such cases the seller is for example obliged to take care of updates necessary to keep the goods containing digital elements intact.
Finally, a seller that has committed to a certain functionality or durability of a goods (i.e. a guarantee) shall always provide the consumer with a guarantee certificate in a durable manner, i.e., in writing or electronically in connection with purchasing the goods. Previously, a guarantee certificate only had to be issued in writing at the request of the buyer.
New chapter on digital content and digital services
New provisions applicable on digital content and digital services have been introduced to the Consumer Protection Act. The new provisions concern the supply of digital content and digital services, including provisions on errors and delay in digital contents or services, available remedies due to such errors and delays and on the modification of digital content or services and obligations to keep updates available. Notably the same 12-month rule on the presumption of default applies in case of defect in digital content and services as in case of defect goods. The new provisions on digital content and digital services cover, for example, contracts for software, video files, digital games, and cloud services and notably both situations where digital services are provided to consumers against monetary remuneration and situations where such services are provided against the provision of personal data by a consumer.
The new provisions on digital services and digital content are welcome as they clarify the rights and obligations for involved companies and consumers. As the consumers’ position is strengthened, companies might face an increased amount of claims due to defective goods and digital content. Companies in the fields of more sophisticated and electronic goods and digital content are recommended to review their terms and procedures in order to ensure that they fully comply the new and amended provisions of the Finnish Consumer Protection Act especially when it comes to remedies in case of defective goods and services, guarantee provisions and periods as well as access to updates.