1. Information on new legislation
The Act on Credit Agreements and the Marketing Practices Act were amended implementing EU directive 2008/48 on credit agreements for consumers.
In addition, the following amendments were made to the Marketing Practices Act:
- A new general obligation on traders to provide consumers with an itemised bill when a service is performed as per account rendered was laid down. The provision replaces a substantial number of executive sector-specific orders.
- The conditions of appointment as Consumer Ombudsman were modified allowing the Consumer Ombudsman the possibility of a subsequent term of three years’ duration in addition to the initial term of six years.
- The minster for Economic and Business Affairs was authorized to lay down rules on information requirements on risk assessment of credit agreements .
2. Success stories
A substantial number of businesses have been prosecuted for criminal offences.
A considerable number of the cases have concerned the unsolicited distribution of commercial communication by means of email or text messages.
The penalty for the unsolicited distribution of commercial communication by means of email or SMS text messages has previosly been fixed at a level of a minium fine of DKK 10,000 (approximately EUR 1,344) for the first 100 emails or text messages (i.e. for any number up to 100) adding DKK 100 (approximately EUR 13.5) per email or text message when exceeding the number 100.
In a leading case it has however been established that in the case of unsolicited distribution of very large quantities of emails etc. a certain “discount” on the fine will be granted.
The guidance paper on unsolicited commercial communications to targeted recipients was revised.
Lengthy negotiations with interested parties on a new guidance paper on environmental and ethical claims were conducted. The new guidance paper was issued in January 2011.
Following a trend from the previous years the number of incoming complaints increased again in 2010. The number has nearly doubled from 2008 to 2010.
3. Case studies
The Consumer Ombudsman has taken part in a sweep carried out within the EU.
4. Important news and events
New guidelines regarding sex discrimination in advertising are currently being negotiated with a focus on balancing commercial freedom of speech on the one hand against degrading depictions of women in advertising and the Act on Gender Equality on the other hand. The new guidelines will replace existing guidelines from 1993.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis the Consumer Ombudsman was assigned new powers to look into specific cases in which financial businesses market their products aggressively to consumers. A substantial amount of resources has been spent on this particular task in 2010 and the work continues in 2011. An additional DKK 15 million (approximately EUR 2 million) have been allocated to the Consumer Ombudsman for the specific purpose of conducting court cases in this field.
With a view to issuing a common position statement in 2011 the Nordic Consumer Ombudsmen set up a working group on marketing in social media such as Facebook.
In August 2010 The National Consumer Agency and The Competition Authority were merged into one agency: Danish Competition and Consumer Authority. In September 2011 the new authority is scheduled to move to new accommodation which will also host The Consumer Ombudsman’s secretariat.
5. Information and Intelligence Sharing