Legal changes relating to consumer protection in Slovenia

10 January 2023

The Slovenian National Assembly has adopted the new Consumer Protection Act (the Act), which implements three European directives aimed at harmonising the level of consumer protection within the EU Member States. The Act will apply from the 26 January 2023. Below we present important legislative changes introduced by the Act, which now also incorporates the provisions of the formerly Act on Consumer Protection against Unfair Commercial Practices.1Summarized from Kaj prinaša novi Zakon o varstvu potrošnikov (ZvPot-1)?, ZPS, 17.11. 2022. Availiable in Slovene:

1. Material defect or non-conformity with the contract

For sales contracts concluded from 26 January 2023 onwards (i.e. after the Act enters into force), the rule that the consumer may freely choose between the means of enforcing a material defect, i.e. whether to request repair, replacement of the product, a proportionate reduction or a full refund of the purchase price, will no longer apply. Under the new legislation, consumers will be more limited, as they will first be able to request either repair or replacement of the goods with a new and faultless one (the choice will, except in certain cases, be up to the consumer). Only then, if the seller fails to do so, the consumer will be able to claim a proportionate reduction or a full refund of the purchase price (i.e. withdraw from the contract).

2. Non-conformity of the goods

In the event of non-conformity of the goods which becomes apparent less than 30 days after delivery, the consumer has the so-called right to reject. This means that the consumer can withdraw from the contract within this period and claim a refund of the purchase price without first having to request that the goods be repaired or replaced. The period during which the legal presumption that the non-conformity of the goods had already existed at the time of delivery is extended from 6 to 12 months. The burden of proof will be on the seller to prove that the defect complained of did not exist when the goods were delivered.

3. Warranty

With regards to warranties, the Act introduces a key change. For products placed on the market after the Act enters into force (i.e. on the 26 January 2023), consumers will be able to claim a warranty only from the guarantor, i.e. the company providing the warranty or from its authorised repairer. The Act also abolishes the mandatory 1-month warranty for used products and introduces a shorter deadline (30 instead of 45 days) in which the guarantor will have to correct errors. The previous deadline of 45 days will still apply to products that will be placed on the market before the law comes into force. The deadline may be extended by 15 days, and the manufacturer will have to notify the consumer before the deadline expires and state the reasons for the extension of the deadline.

4. Unfair contract terms

In terms of substance, the unfair contract terms regime remains unchanged. The aim of these provision is primarily to eliminate the possibility of divergent interpretations that have arisen in case law. The law specifically states that the unfairness of contractual terms, even if they are written in clear and understandable language, can also be judged in relation to the definition of the main object of the contract and in relation to the adequacy between the price and payment for the exchanged service, goods or digital content.

Although the Directive on unfair terms in consumer contracts narrows the scope of assessment of contract terms, if they are written in clear and understandable language, the level of protection in Slovenia is high, as the Directive allows member states to maintain or improve the level of consumer protection.

5. Changes in the digital area

The Act will also introduce new developments in the digital area. In practice, this means that it will also cover computer programs, various audio and video files, apps, digital games, data roaming and so on. The Act foresees an obligation for companies to provide necessary updates, and warranty claims for consumers for restoring compliance, a proportionate reduction of the purchase price or withdrawal from the contract and a full refund of the purchase price.

We point out that the provisions regarding contracts for the supply of digital content or services will also apply to a contract in which the consumer agrees to provide his/her personal data to the company in lieu of (monetary) payment of the purchase price, and the company would use the data for purposes beyond the mere supply of the digital content or service, which is particularly common on social networks.

6. Online marketplaces

Online marketplaces (such as Wolt and Mimovrste) will need to provide consumers with information on how offers are ranked, with whom the contract is being concluded in a specific case and whether the price offered is adjusted on the basis of the consumer's profiling. In addition to these new features, the Act also prohibits hidden advertising and the misrepresentation of customer ratings and recommendations.

7. Prohibition of dual quality of goods

The Act considers any marketing of goods in one member state as identical to goods marketed in other member states, provided that these goods have a significantly different composition or characteristics (so-called double quality of goods) as a misleading business practice. The new regulation prohibits such practice as it could mislead consumers into making a purchase that they would not otherwise have made.

8. Obligations regarding discounts

The Act clarifies the obligation of companies to offer discounts. When reducing the price of goods, companies will have to label both the previous price and the reduced price, with the previous price being the lowest price labelled in the last 30 days before the reduction. In cases of gradual and continuous reduction, the previous price will be the price that was the lowest at least 30 days before the first reduction.