Parliament is currently processing sections related to the implementation of the so-called consumer protection Omnibus directive as part of a more extensive Consumer Protection Act amendment. The amendment includes new discount pricing requirements regarding the sales of good, which will have a significant impact on the operations of shops.
According to the Omnibus directive, the national legislation should have been finished by 28 November 2021, and its application is supposed to start 28 May 2022. Now, instead of six months, it looks like shops will have only weeks or days to adapt to the new requirements. The Finnish Commerce Federation finds the situation bizarre and unfair, as companies are not being afforded due time to prepare for the new requirements. This puts the legal protection of the companies at risk.
“It looks like many businesses dealing in business-to-consumer trade will be faced with two bad options. A business can either risk having its discount sales pricing regarded as going in part against the new regulations or suspending all campaigns for the time being, which will also significantly hurt the consumers,” says Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director of the Finnish Commerce Federation.
Similarly, the implementation of the consumer protection directives concerning the sales of goods and digital content and services was also clearly delayed. The Consumer Protection Act sections based on these directives entered into force and became applicable on 1 January 2022, even though the amendments should have been recorded in the legislation by 1 July 2021.
It takes time for companies to adapt to the new legislation
Delays in the Ministry of Justice’s drafting of law can no longer be explained on the basis of exceptional circumstances related to COVID-19 or any other similar temporary grounds.
“In the drafting of law, the fact that companies need time to adapt to the new obligations has been completely ignored. It is unfathomable how seemingly all of the responsibility over the timely implementation of the EU legislation has been placed on the companies. We simply cannot accept this,” says Kiviniemi.
The requirements of the new legislation can be prepared for in advance only to a limited extent.
“For instance, the new regulations concerning reporting on discount prices require the shops to train their personnel and update their cashiers or other ICT systems. It is not reasonable for the companies to start doing either of these things before the law has been passed and its content is fully known for certain, in order to avoid mistakes and ensure that the investments in training and updates do not go to waste,” says Ilari Kallio, Chief Policy Adviser at the Finnish Commerce Federation.
The Finnish Commerce Federation is making a serious request to the Ministry of Justice to overcome the delays as soon as possible. Ultimately, this must be done by allocating more resources to the drafting of law. Companies must be afforded at least the minimum time outlined in EU legislation for them to adapt their operations. At the same time, the Finnish Commerce Federation hopes that, in drafting the legislation, Parliament considers the dire situation of companies in the commerce sector and ensures that there is enough time to adapt to the amendments based on the Omnibus directive to the Consumer Protection Act.
Mari Kiviniemi, Managing Director, Finnish Commerce Federation, +358 (0)50 511 3189, mari.kiviniemi(at)kauppa.fi
Ilari Kallio, Chief Policy Adviser, company law and EU affairs, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)40 139 6912, firstname.lastname@example.org