ACM issues new 'rules of thumb' for online platforms

27 November 2020
27 November 2020

The ACM has published rules of thumb that apply specifically to online platforms. These rules of thumb are a supplement to the 'Guidelines for the protection of the online consumer. Boundaries of online persuasion', published earlier this year. The rules of thumb concern the interactions and transactions between consumers and sellers of goods and services through online platforms, such as app-stores and online trading platforms.

The rules of thumb for platforms according to the ACM are:
  • It has to be clear to consumers which party is responsible for the execution and fulfilment of orders (is that the user of the platform, or the platform itself? Or maybe both?).
  • Consumers need to know who they are trading with. The identity of the provider has to be clear.
  • If consumers enter into an agreement with a non-professional party via a platform, they will not be protected by consumer law. This must be communicated by the platform.
  • Consumers must be informed about the selection criteria which apply to professional users who have access to the platform, insofar as these are used. In addition, consumers must be informed about how the platform checks whether a professional user is trustworthy.
  • Measures must be taken to ensure that professional users of the platform comply with consumer law.
  • Users acting as providers must be required to clearly state whether they are acting as trader (professionally) or consumer.
  • The platform must be designed in such a way, that professional parties can comply with the rules of European consumer and marketing regulations.

The rules of thumb make it clear that providers of online platform services play a crucial role in safeguarding the rights of consumers and the compliance with the applicable obligations for professional parties.

Some of the rules of thumb are notable, because these do not literally follow from the law. The ACM seems to be anticipating on the implementation of Directive (EU) 2019/2161 adopted on 27 November 2019. This Directive creates (transparency)obligations for online trading platforms, and amends some current directives in the field of consumer protection. By the spring of 2022 the directive must be transposed into Dutch national legislation. Recently, a draft implementation proposal was published.

If you have any questions, please contact Thomas de Weerd or Jurre Reus.
Written by:
Thomas de Weerd

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Advocaat | Partner
+31 20 605 69 85
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Jurre Reus

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Advocaat | Senior Associate
+31 20 605 65 76
+31 6 8380 3239