E-commerce

Legal framework

The development of electronic commerce is crucial for the European
Community and the internal market. The Directive 2000/31/EC sets a legal
frame work for the Electronic Commerce in Europe. (See also the First
Report on the application of the Directive which can be found in the
Internet site of the European Union Law: http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/e-commerce/directive/index_en.htm).

This Directive has been implemented to Greek Law by the Presidential Decree 131/2003 and in Cypriot law by the Law 156 (I) 2004.
The Directive a number of obligations of the natural or legal persons
which provide on line economic activity (service providers). The service
providers are not subject to any authorisation. That means that it is
not necessary to obtain a special authorisation to exerce electronic
commerce. However, if national law provides special requirements and
administrative procedure or authorisation in order to exerce a
professional avtivity these requirements must be fullfiled. (see also
article 4 of Law 2251/1994 about consumer protection and distance
contracts which establishes the obligation to be declared to a special
Registry of the Ministry of Development). Information society services
are, in principle, subject to the law of the Member State in which the
service provider is established.
In turn, the Member State in which the information society service is
received cannot restrict incoming services.The Directive covers the
provision of a variety of electronic services :information services,
online selling of products, advertising, professional services, Internet
access services, hosting of contents.

Information to be provided

The Directive aims to create confidence in the relation between the
service provider and the consumer and to to make the provider
identifiable. The service
provider shall render easily, directly and permanently accessible to the
recipients of the service and competent authorities, at least the
following information:

(a) the name of the service provider

(b) the geographic address at which the service provider is established

(c) the details of the service provider, including his electronic mail
address, which allow him to be contacted rapidly and communicated with
in a direct and effective manner

(d) where the service provider is registered in a trade or similar
public register, the trade register in which the service provider is
entered and his registration number, or equivalent means of
identification in that register
(e) where the activity is subject to an authorisation scheme, the
particulars of the relevant supervisory authority

(f) as concerns the regulated professions:
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professional body or similar institution with which the service provider
is registered,

- the professional title and the Member State where it has been granted,

- a reference to the applicable professional rules in the Member State
of establishment and the means to access them

(g) where the service provider undertakes an activity that is subject to
VAT, the identification number referred to in Article 22(1) of the sixth
Council Directive 77/388/EEC of 17 May 1977 on the harmonisation of the
laws of the Member States relating to turnover taxes – Common system of
value added tax: uniform basis of assessment

In addition to other information requirements established by Community
law, Member States shall at least ensure that, where information society
services refer to prices, these are to be indicated clearly and
unambiguously and, in particular, must indicate whether they are
inclusive of tax and delivery costs

 

The placing of the order

The full understanding of the contractual process is very improtant
to distance contracts, such as contracts concluding by electronic means
(see also article 4 of Directive on distance contracts).

Articles 9 and 10 of P.D. 131/2003 and article 13  of Cypriot Law 151 (Ι) 2004  establish the obligation to provide specific information concerning the conclusion of the contract between the
service provider and the consumer in electronic commerce. At least the
following information has to be given by the service provider clearly,
comprehensibly and unambiguously and prior to the order being placed by
the recipient of the service: (a) the different technical steps to
follow to conclude the contract

(b) whether or not the concluded contract will be filed by the service
provider and whether it will be accessible

(c) the technical means for identifying and correcting input errors
prior to the placing of the order

(d) the languages offered for the conclusion of the contract
(e) any relevant codes of conduct to which the service provider
subscribes and information on how those codes can be consulted
electronically

Contract terms and general conditions provided to the recipient must be
made available in a way that allows him to store and reproduce them.

Except when otherwise agreed by parties who are not consumers, in
cases where the recipient of the service places his order through
technological means, the following principles apply:

- the service provider has to acknowledge the receipt of the recipient’s
order without undue delay and by electronic means

- the order and the acknowledgement of receipt are deemed to be received
when the parties to whom they are addressed are able to access them
Moreover, the service provider has to make available to the recipient of
the service appropriate, effective and accessible technical means
allowing him to identify and correct input errors, prior to the placing
of the order.