Control of Price Related Terms in Standard Form Contracts in the European Union: The Innovative Role of the CJEU’s Case-Law

  • Sergio Cámara LapuenteEmail author
Part of the Ius Comparatum - Global Studies in Comparative Law book series (GSCL, volume 36)


The starting-point of this paper is an analysis of the regulatory framework provided by Directive 93/13/EEC on unfair contract terms regarding price-related terms, distinguishing between aspects that it regulates and those that it leaves out of its scope of application. I then examine the central role the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has played in the development of certain concepts related to the transparency principle as applied to contract prices (what it is, what it affects, how it should be applied, what terms are exempt, and the consequences of a lack of transparency). The Court has put forward autonomous and innovative interpretations of what it considers the main subject matter of a contract and the nature of the assessment of transparency (which goes beyond a mere grammatical or formal understanding); it has identified its basis in the trader’s duty of information; it has adopted an objective standard of the average consumer for assessment of the intelligibility of a term; and it has clarified the nature and consequences of the ineffectiveness which results from a lack of transparency of a term. Nonetheless, the CJEU may have exceeded its own powers of interpretation by treating the assessment of transparency as a particular case of unfairness, as Directive 93/13/EEC does not establish any consequence of non-compliance with the duty for plain intelligible language, other than requiring the interpretation most favourable to the consumer. Finally, this paper considers future issues, which are likely to arise in this area, which the CJEU will have to face and aspects of its existing case-law that it should refine, and it puts forward a critical approach to the scheme of controls designed by the Directive.



This chapter is a result of the research project DER2017-84748-R, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness. The author is very grateful to Prof. Dr. Simon Whittaker for his valuable suggestions in relation to an earlier version of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of La Rioja, Faculty of LawLogroñoSpain

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