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Premature Obsolescence: Suggestions for Legislative Counter-measures in German and European Sales & Consumer Law

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Obsolescence – the premature wear and tear of products – is currently a considered topic. There have been a number of recent developments in this area: the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) has recently launched a flagship campaign on durable goods; the European Economic and Social Committee delivered an own-initiative opinion;, the German Environment Protection Agency (UBA) has commissioned two comprehensive studies concerning this issue; the European Commission has suggested a Directive on certain areas relating to contracts for online and other distance sales of goods; and, a law providing explicitly for criminal prosecution of planned obsolescence has been recently enacted in France. This article uses the planned evaluation and review of Directive 1999/44/EC as an opportunity to examine what legislative measures could be adopted to counteract premature wear and tear of consumer goods. The author argues for a new system based on existing warranty rights and the norms of the European product legislation, which will generate consumer- and environment-friendly results, whilst also providing flexible measures for the industry.

Affiliations: 1: Hochschule Pforzheim


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