Table of Contents

Research Handbook on EU Consumer and Contract Law

Research Handbook on EU Consumer and Contract Law

Research Handbooks in European Law series

Edited by Christian Twigg-Flesner

Research Handbook on EU Consumer and Contract Law takes stock of the evolution of this fascinating area of private law to date and identifies key themes for future development of the law and research agendas. The Handbook is divided into three parts: first, authors examine a range of cross-cutting issues relevant to both consumer and contract law. The second part discusses specific topics on EU Consumer Law, and the final part focuses on a number of important subjects which remain current for the development of EU Contract Law.

Chapter 11: Withdrawal rights

Jonathon Watson

Subjects: law - academic, consumer law, european law, law of obligations


Withdrawal rights are an especially powerful instrument in the consumer's legal toolbox. They allow the consumer to terminate the performance obligations under a binding contract and thus impact on its very roots. Such rights are generally exceptional in nature and are thus only available under exceptional circumstances. Nonetheless, developments in sales techniques and technologies have meant that this exceptional nature of withdrawal rights has been watered down and there are indications that their use is widespread. This chapter therefore begins with a brief overview of the justification and role of withdrawal rights in European consumer contract law. The main focus is on the most recent development in withdrawal rights in EU legislation, namely the Consumer Rights Directive (hereinafter also'CRD'), which, in respect of the contracts it covers has the widest-reaching (in terms of scope and frequency of use) withdrawal rights. The underlying objective of this chapter is to question the role of withdrawal rights and whether their recent development in distance and off-premises contracts can be seen as using a restrictive approach in substantive law as an attempt to dissuade rather than promote the exercise of withdrawal rights and thereby attempting to'reinstate' their status as an exceptional instrument of consumer protection.

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