Consumer protection, case VI ACa 1069/12

March 9th, 2013, Tomasz Rychlicki

The concept of “average consumer” is present in intellectual property law and the law of unfair competition from a long time. Since the Dassonville case (C-8/74), the concept of the average consumer has been developed in the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union, and appeared in the preamble to Directive 2005/29 on unfair commercial practices. According to the Polish Act of 23 August 2007 on combating unfair commercial practices, the average consumer is understood as a consumer who is adequately informed, attentive and careful. The assessment should be made with account taken of social, cultural, linguistic factors and the belonging of the particular consumer to a specific consumer group, which should be understood as a consumer group that can be unambiguously identified and is particularly receptive to the influence of a commercial practice or the product to which the commercial practice applies, due to its specific characteristics, such as age, physical or mental disability. However, it looks like some Polish courts do not think that an average Polish consumer fits the established rules and standards.

The Appeallate Court in Warsaw in its judgment of 13 January 2013 case file VI ACa 1069/12 held that the average Pole, which is also the average consumer, mainly due to social and cultural backgrounds, has a low legal awareness. This is the view shared by the Polish legal community. The standard of an average Polish consumer cannot in any way related to the standard of the average consumer in Western Europe, which for many decades is subjected to intensive consumer education.