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EU strengthens consumer rights in e-commerce

Customers can sue foreign online retailers

The European Parliament has approved a measure, which, among other things, allows customers to sue operators of foreign e-commerce sites in the consumers' home country courts.

Industry representatives have argued that such a regulation would discourage Europe-wide online trade. But consumer-rights groups ultimately prevailed, claiming that forcing consumers to sue in the jurisdiction where a company has its registered office would effectively deny justice.

The right to sue, however, is limited to cases involving "active" Internet sites, i.e., those that market directly to the customer's home country.

The measure, approved by a vote of 298 in favour, 11 opposed, and 204 abstentions, codifies and updates the 1968 Brussels Convention on the recognition and enforcement of judgments.

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