Suing a Foreign Trader before your own National Court

11 August 2013

The case concerned Miss Muhlleitner, domiciled inAustria, who searched on the internet for a car of German make, which she was purchasing for private use.  Miss Muhlleitner visitedGermanyto purchase the vehicle and took immediate delivery of it.  Subsequently, Miss Muhlleitner discovered that the vehicle was defective and requested that the Defendants repair it.  The Defendants refused to repair the vehicle and as such, Miss Muhlleitner brought proceedings in anAustrian Courtfor rescission of the contract.  The Defendants questioned the international jurisdiction of theAustrian Courtarguing that the dispute should be brought before the German Courts,  in the jurisdiction where the vehicle was purchased.

The Court of Justice of the European Union dismissed the Defendants argument, ruling that to bring proceedings before the Courts of the consumers own domiciled State, did not require the consumer to satisfy the condition that the contract was concluded at a distance.

The Court of Justice of the European Union pointed to the fact that with the advancement of electronic commerce it is extremely common for the dealer to advertise on the internet and direct his goods or services to a particular market through his website.  As such, where a consumer asks for information or decides to enter into a contract, following an advertisement that they viewed on the internet, this would not satisfy the criteria that the contract was concluded at a distance.

The consumer would not be able to rely on the special jurisdiction which allows an individual to bring proceedings against the other party to a contract, either in the Court of theMemberStatein which that party is domiciled, or in the Courts where the consumer is domiciled.

The above article is not legal advice, it is intended to provide information of general interest only.  Should you require any information in relation to the issues raised in this article please contact Christopher Ahearne on 01245 228130 or email