Following the adoption of Directive 2019/771 on certain aspects concerning contracts for the sale of goods (the “Sale of Goods Directive”) and Directive 2019/770 on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services (the “Digital Content Directive”), new provisions were introduced to the Finnish Consumer Protection Act (38/1978) as of 1 January 2022. The amendments aim to facilitate the purchase and sale of goods, digital content and services within the EU.
Due to the broad nature of the underlying directives, amendments relate to various areas, such as the conformity of goods; the duration of time within which the seller is liable for the non-conformity of goods and the burden of proof regarding the same; and consumer remedies regarding defective goods. In addition, special provisions on trade in goods that contain digital elements were added, such as the provision on the seller’s obligation to provide the necessary security and other updates to keep goods that contain digital elements free from defects.
Key changes to the Consumer Protection Act
Under the new Consumer Protection Act, a defect is assumed to have already been in the goods at the time of delivery if the defect occurs within one year of the consumer’s receipt of the goods. As the supplier is always liable for goods containing defects, the reform improves the position of the consumer. The previous corresponding period has been six months.
Under the new law, the conformity of second-hand goods will be assessed on the same basis as that of new goods. The current legislation that allows goods to be sold “as is” or with another similar restrictive provision will be completely removed. Furthermore, consumers are given the right to choose as to whether the defective goods are to be repaired or replaced.
The new provisions concerning the trade of goods also expressly cover goods with digital elements in situations where the absence of the incorporated or inter-connected digital content or digital service would prevent the goods from performing their intended functions. However, the provisions are only applicable where that digital content or service is provided to the consumer together with the goods. Consequently, a non-functioning software provided in connection with an electronic device for example can constitute a defect for which the supplier is liable.
A new chapter on agreements regarding digital content and digital services was added to the Consumer Protection Act to implement the Digital Content Directive. The scope of the new chapter covers e.g. agreements regarding software, video files, digital games and cloud services, laying down provisions on the supply of digital content or digital services, defects in such digital content or digital services and consequences thereof as well as modification of digital content or a digital service. The chapter applies not only to agreements under which the consumer has agreed to pay the purchase price for the digital content or service, but also to agreements under which the consumer has undertaken to provide personal data to the trader in exchange for the digital content or digital service.