On October 11, 2018, the Supreme Court of the Slovak Republic issued a ruling in the matter (File No. 3Cdo/220/2017) dealing with the consequences of failure to resolve a consumer complaint (claim) within the statutory 30-day deadline.
Under Section 18(4) of Act No. 250/2007 Coll. on Consumer Protection, as amended, once it is determined how a consumer complaint is to be dealt with, it should be resolved immediately. In justified cases, a consumer complaint may be resolved even later; however, the procedure must not take longer than 30 days from the date of filing the consumer complaint. After the deadline for complaint resolution has passed, the consumer has the right to withdraw from the contract or has the right to exchange the product for a new product.
A grammatical interpretation of the above provision would lead to the conclusion that after the 30-day period has passed, the consumer has the right to withdraw from the contract, or the right to exchange the product for a new product, without the need to fulfill other conditions.
However, the Supreme Court has reached a different conclusion in its decision. According to the Supreme Court, the 30-day deadline set for the resolution of a complaint under Section 18(4) of Act No. 250/2007 Coll. does not establish the presumption of the existence of the claimed fault and the consumer is entitled to a claim (redress) arising out of liability for such a fault only if the fault objectively exists. The exercise of such consumer’s right is justified only if certain conditions are met, namely
a/ the claimed fault is indeed a fault,
b/ the fault exists at the time of the exercise of the consumer’s right,
c/ the fault is of a nature that is required for the consumer to be entitled to exercise his right.
According to the Supreme Court, it is therefore essential that the courts always deal with the existence of a fault and determine whether or not it is a “claimable fault”. In the event the damage occurs due to incorrect use of the product, in particular if the product is not used in accordance with the information (of the manufacturer) about the use and maintenance of the product, it is not a “claimable” fault within the meaning of Section 18(4) of Act No. 250/2007 Coll.