Law No. 144/2015 of September 8th transposes Directive 2013/EU, of the European Parliament and of the Council, of May 21st, 2013, on the Alternative Resolution of Consumer Disputes.
The legal diploma establishes the legal framework for the Alternative Consumer Dispute Resolution mechanisms, with the Consumer Arbitration Network existing in Portugal.
The Consumer may, at his option, indicate the resolution of disputes to the evaluation of a consumer dispute arbitration center.
What are consumption processes?
Contracts initiated by a consumer against a supplier of goods or service provider, which respect the contractual obligation resulting from a contract of purchase and sale or provision of services, between a resident goods service provider or designated service provider and consumers in Portugal and in the European Union (article 2 nº 1 of Law nº 144/2015).
What constitutes an ARC?
ARC are mechanisms available to consumers and companies to try to resolve consumer disputes out of court, in a faster way.
ARC covers mediation, conciliation and arbitration. The ARC process begins with an attempt to reach an agreement through mediation or conciliation. However, if such an agreement is not possible, the parties may still proceed to the Arbitral Tribunal.
What are ARC entities?
They are independent entities, with specialized personnel, who impartially help the consumer and the company to reach a friendly solution. These entities are authorized for arbitration, conciliation and consumer disputes. The mentioned entities must be registered in the list provided for in article 17 of Law nº 144/2015.
Who is responsible for managing the list of ARC entities?
The Consumer Directorate-General is the national authority responsible for the registration and dissemination of the list of ADR entities.
How many ARC entities are there in Portugal?
In Portugal, there are ten Consumer Conflict Arbitration Centers. Being that, seven are of general competence and of regional scope, being easily found in Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Guimarães, Braga/Viana do Castelo, Algarve and Madeira.
There is also the national territorial domain center (supple), the CNIACC – National Center for Information and Arbitration of Consumer Conflicts.
How to identify a competent ARC entity to settle the dispute?
The place of conclusion of the contract for the purchase of a good or the provision of services, which as a rule coincides with the place of establishment, determines the competent arbitration center.
Who is obliged to inform consumers about ARC entities?
All suppliers of goods and service providers, including those who only sell products or provide services via the Internet, are informed to consumers about available ADR entities or to which they are voluntarily voluntary or to which they are bound by law.
The current obligations of Law No. 144/2015 apply, along with those designated, to all economic sectors not excluded by the law, including those where there is already specific legislation providing for the obligation.
Is there any possibility of association with an entity?
This law does not impose membership of any entity, establishing only a duty of information about existing entities. But there is the case of arbitration necessary for essential public services, such as electricity, gas, water and services, electronic and postal communications.
How should companies provide this information?
They must be provided clearly and service 1 and lend themselves to the type of supply (article 18 nº 2 of Law nº 44/2015). So:
On the website of the suppliers of goods or service providers, if any.
In contracts of purchase and sale or provision of services between the supplier of goods or service provider, when we assume the written form or constitute adhesion contracts.
If there is no written writing, the information must be provided on another support fixed on the wall or on the sales counter or on the invoice delivered to the consumer.
Are you responsible for monitoring compliance with the obligation to inform consumers?
It is up to the Economic Authority (ASAE) and the regulators of the security sector, ordered in the mandatory processes, an instruction on compliance with authority, an instruction on the necessary security processes.
What are the consequences of non-compliance?
Failure to comply with the duty to inform suppliers of goods or service providers constitutes an administrative offence, punishable by:
Fine between €500 and €5000, when committed by a natural person.
Fine between €5000 and €25000, when committed by a legal person.
When does this regime apply?
Law nº 144/2015 of September 8, came into force on September 23, 2015, and suppliers of goods or service providers had 6 months, counted from that date, to adapt to this new regime. Therefore, since March 23, 2016, companies must have this information available to their consumers.