Unfair terms in consumer contracts

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In RWE Vertrieb AG v Verbraucherzentrale Nordrhein-Westfalen e.V. (Case C-92/11) when considering contractual terms which give a supplier the right to unilaterally vary the terms of a consumer contract, the Court of Justice of the European Union (First Chamber) (the ECJ) has provided some helpful guidance on the interpretation of the Council Directive 93/13/EEC of 5 April 1993 on unfair terms in consumer contracts (the Unfair Terms Directive), confirming its broad scope and limiting the effect of such unilateral variation clauses.

While this decision was made following a referral from the German courts in relation to contracts for the supply of natural gas, this case has important implications for any business supplying consumers in the EU — especially where their standard contracts give them the right to unilaterally vary aspects of the contract (and in particular where it gives the right to vary price)…

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