The New Cyprus Consumer Protection Law of 2021
A new consumer protection legislation was recently passed by the House of Representatives of the Republic of Cyprus titled the Consumer Protection Law of 2021 (Law. 112(I)/ 2021) on the 12th May 2021 (referred to herein as “the Law”). The Law has repealed, amongst others, the previous consumer protection law of 2013, the unfair commercial practices of businesses to consumers law as well as the law on misleading and comparative advertising. The new legislative framework has brought significant changes to the previous regime, strengthening the rights of consumers.
The introduction of new provisions is intended to secure consumers in matters related to the protection of their financial interests, as well as their inalienable right to obtain precise and accurate information before making the decision to enter into a consumer transaction. One of the most important reforms to this legislation, is the provision of necessary tools to the Consumer Protection Service (“the CPS”) to impose sanctions and administrative fines on those who are in violation of the provisions of the Law. The changes will make a major contribution to strengthening the level of protection for the consumer and will strengthen the smooth operation of the market.
Below is a non-exhaustive list of key changes brought about by the Law:
- The possibility of imposing an administrative fine for all violations under the Law has now been established. In addition, now a fine becomes payable upon imposition.
- The CPS has the power to take measures with regards to the issue of a restraining order, in order to enable the immediate elimination of an infringement (e.g. the immediate cessation of a misleading advertisement).
- The exercise of a hierarchical appeal before the Minister of Commerce must now take place within 30 days from the notification of the decision to the offender, with the obligation to issue a decision within 90 days, to avoid lengthy delays.
- Until now, if after a consumer complaint, the CPS concluded that there was a violation and had imposed sanctions, no remedy was provided for the consumer, e.g. compensation. Today, the consumer, whose financial interests have been affected as a result of a violation of the Law, is given the opportunity to file a lawsuit for restoration or redress, for damages suffered.
- The law establishes criminal liability for non-compliance, for obstructing the CPS from conducting its checks and for providing false information.
- The concept of ‘mystery shoppers’ is introduced in order to detect any violations and to gather evidence.
- The CPS may oblige the trader, such as internet service providers, to remove content or restrict access to the online platform (link) containing misleading practices.
- During sale/discount periods, the way prices are displayed, has been amended - both the original price and the new reduced price must be indicated.
- An obligation is introduced on service-providing businesses (e.g. barbers, hairdressers, gyms) to display a price list indicating the prices of the basic services offered.
- The Law establishes a two-year warranty on new products. In the event that the trader decides to grant an additional commercial guarantee, then such practice should be done in writing or electronically, so that the consumer is duly informed as to what the guarantee covers, as well as its duration.
- It is now the seller's obligation to inform the consumer in writing about the store’s return and change or exchange policies as well as the right to a legal guarantee.
- The seller’s obligation to accept product returns as defective has increased to 1 (one) year (from 6 months), without the consumer having to prove that the defect is not of a result of his own misuse.
- The period during which the product is in the possession of the seller for repair purposes, is excluded from the duration of the legal guarantee.
With the implementation of the Law, we anticipate that this will lead to further enhancement of protection of consumer rights, but at the same time, will benefit businesses as they are given clearer guidance as to their legal obligations and duties under the Law. This will, gradually and inevitably, lead to the strengthening of consumer confidence in local retail stores.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought with regards to your specific circumstances.
How can we help?
- We can assist by providing legal advice and assistance with regards to informing various vendors, distributors and other traders of their statutory obligations under the Law, to help ensure compliance with the Law;
- We can provide legal advisory services and guidance with regards to the lawful operation of a business and particular in relation to retail stores, with updating their current policies in place, in order to ensure adherence to the Law;
- We can assist consumers in any dispute arising under the Law and/ or with regards to representation before any relevant authority.
Author: Evyenia Epaminondou