Research Handbooks in European Law series
Edited by Andrej Savin and Jan Trzaskowski
Chapter 11: Consumer contracts and the Internet in EU private international law
The Internet has great potential when it is used in the commercial field. It is an effective low-cost instrument that could enable small and medium sized businesses to access foreign markets without extra cost. It also empowers consumers who can select from many suppliers and compare the quality, services, and prices to make the best choice. The Internet has the potential to build a truly global borderless market. In the EU, the internal market could benefit from the Internet which could remove internal frontiers, eliminate physical and cost barriers and facilitate free movement of goods, free movement of services, and freedom of establishment. On the other hand, the opportunities are associated with commercial risk. Where disputes have arisen, the parties would wonder which country they might sue or be sued in and which country’s substantive law should apply to decide their rights and obligations. Without clear and well-designed jurisdiction and choice of law rules, uncertainty would hamper the development of consumer-oriented e-commerce. Proper private international law, which is compatible with the special characteristics of the Internet and appropriate to balance the conflict of interest between consumers and e-businesses, thus becomes necessary and important. Traditionally, private international law functions to allocate a particular contractual relationship within the territory of a country based either on the party’s intention or on the objective connecting factors.
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