Consumer Arbitration and Subtle Variances in its Effectiveness in Selected EU Member States (Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Germany)

In: Review of Central and East European Law
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Thorough legal regulation of arbitration involving consumers is significant for their protection, which is provided in the EU by the restrictive model, embedded in Council Directive 93/13/EEC on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts. It is submitted that EU Member States’ legislative reaction to achieve compatibility of their national laws with Directive 93/13 EEC was not identical and led to a debate on the effectiveness of consumer arbitration in the EU. The following article is an attempt to inform this debate. It provides a compact analysis of consumer arbitration agreements and discusses relevant arbitration law and practice in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Germany – four EU Member States and also neighbors with intertwined mutual relationships. The thesis of this article is that even the most consumer-friendly legislation does not secure the success of consumer arbitration in all arbitrated cases. Equally, strongly pro-consumer legislation does not always mean arbitration-friendly legislation when legislative assimilation of litigation with arbitration is not avoided – indeed, quite the opposite.