M-EPLI Talk with Dr. Sofia Ranchordás: “Online Reputation and Information Asymmetries”

By Dr. William Bull and Doris Beganovic (ELS Bachelor student)

 

On the 25th of October 2017, Maastricht European Private Law Institute had the honour of welcoming Dr. Sofia Ranchordás, professor at both Leiden and Groningen Law School, to give a talk about Online Reputation and Information Asymmetries, with an emphasis on providing a critical account of reputational feedback in the platform economy.

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The Volkswagen Emissions Scandal: Will it become a matter of European contract law?

By Dr. Anna Beckers

 

In the past two years, I have worked on the legal consequences of the Volkswagen scandal. I have focused here and here primarily on whether the corporate social responsibility policy of Volkswagen, in which the company has outlined its commitment to environmental protection, can have legal consequences under EU private law. To that end, I predicted that the EU unfair commercial practices directive has the potential to remedy the detrimental consequences for consumers. Ella Rosenberg has argued on the MEPLI blog in a similar direction.

In the meantime, much has happened in the context of the Volkswagen consumer litigation that has made me revisit this prediction. It seems that the focus on false advertisement law has materialised in the United States. This February, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission reached a far-reaching settlement in favour of consumers. The company has to fully compensate misled consumers through a combination of repair, monetary compensation and buy-backs. But, in the Member States of the EU, the experience with the use of unfair commercial practices law appears to have been mixed. The Italian competition authority fined Volkswagen for unfair commercial practices after an emissions test had been conducted by the consumer organisation Altroconsumo, but this remains the only successful action in the EU so far (according to the European Consumer Organisation BEUC).  And even in Italy, the consequence was a fine for the company without the added effect that consumers have their losses compensated or receive confiscated profits (this is subject to separate proceedings).

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Reservations over the Netherlands Commercial Court

By Professor Bas van Zelst

 

On 18 July 2017 the Government submitted a proposal for the establishment of the Netherlands Commercial Court (NCC). In brief, the proposal provides for the establishment of a court (and appellate court) before which parties can litigate in the English language. According to the proposal, the NCC will give the Dutch economy an impulse. The NCC provides Dutch parties with access to an affordable, English judicial system of high quality, which in turn is beneficial to the Dutch service sector (from counsel to hotels and from translation agencies to couriers).

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A Bank’s Duty of Care and the Anglo-American/European Divide

By Professor Cees van Dam 

 

This summer, Hart Publishing published the book ’A Bank’s Duty of Care’ I edited with my colleague Professor Danny Busch from the Radboud University in Nijmegen.

In recent years, an increasing number of customers and investors have filed claims against banks, such as for mis-selling financial products, poor financial advice, and insufficient disclosure of and warning about financial risks. In case law and legislation, the scope of a bank’s duty of care seems to expand, not only to include protection of consumers against unclear risks of complicated financial products but also protection of professional parties against more obvious risks of relatively straightforward products.

The book provides reports of how nine jurisdictions (Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, England and Wales, Ireland, and the United States of America) deal with these questions and how answers are found or embedded in their national legal systems. The book also contains a chapter on the EU regulatory framework, particularly the MiFID I and II conduct-of-business provisions (Markets in Financial Instruments Directives).

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German Amtsgericht on the duty to rescue

By Dr. Lotte Meurkens

 

A decision of the German Amtsgericht Essen-Borbeck, which as a court of first instance deals with both criminal and civil cases, recently became world news. For example NOSBBC Newsder Spiegel Online, and the New York Times all reported about it. It became apparent to me after telephoning the court that the judgment has not been published yet, meaning that my writing will be based on these news items, and that it concerns a criminal case. The latter is important as news on court decisions (including terms such as ‘prosecutor’ and ‘fine’) should be interpreted with care especially when the court in question also has civil jurisdiction. Moreover, given the legal topic in this case (liability for omissions, i.e. liability that is not based on an act but on a failure to act, and duty to rescue), it could very well have been a civil case.

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