Consumer law and the economic crisis – Cristina Poncibò

The economic and financial crisis is leading to a renewed focus on consumer and investor protection and the new regulatory environment is often characterised by attempts to design innovative regulatory techniques and policy-making approaches both in the EU and the US.

The article point outs two of the most relevant lessons that could be learnt from the economic crisis and it starts by posing two questions. The first question is descriptive: does the current regulatory framework in EU Law profile the ‘real’ consumer? The second question is normative and focuses primarily on consumer contracts: does the informational model, consisting in the mandatory provision of pre-contractual information to the consumer, still represent an adequate tool for consumer protection?

The working paper argues that, first, there is still a gap between the Law and the Science of Consumer Behaviour, so that, in the end, the ‘real’ consumer is not effectively protected. Second and also important  the information disclosure strategies adopted in the most recent EU provisions (e.g. Consumer Rights  Directive and CESL) are dated and probably ineffective.

Doubtless, in the aftermath the economic crisis, the ‘myth’ of informational consumer protection, mostly based on information disclosure, has been seriously challenged: policy-makers are now called to reform their strategies.