Research Handbook on EU Consumer and Contract Law
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Research Handbook on EU Consumer and Contract Law

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.
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Chapter 10: The future of pre-contractual information duties: from behavioural insights to big data

Christoph Busch


The aim of this chapter is to reflect upon the future of pre-contractual information duties as a regulatory tool in EU consumer law. Until now, information duties or mandated disclosures are among the most popular regulatory instruments in EU consumer legislation. However, a growing body of research from behavioural economics, psychology and neuroscience has questioned the information paradigm that constitutes a hallmark of EU consumer law. While there seems to be a broad consensus that the old information model dating back to the 1970s is no longer viable, it is less clear which regulatory approach could replace it. This chapter discusses different alternative approaches that could revive or replace the information-based approach. It is argued that information duties as a regulatory tool can have a future if they adapt to the insights from behavioural research and embrace the possibilities of modern technology. Section 2 outlines the conceptual foundations of the information paradigm and shows how duties of disclosure have become a key feature of EU consumer legislation. Section 3 addresses the limitations of the information-based approach which have been identified by psychological and behavioural research. In section 4 several regulatory alternatives to the current information model are discussed. Section 5 looks at how in the near future a more technological approach to disclosure based on Big Data analytics could lead to a transformation of the information model from standardised to personalised disclosures.

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