In the event of a dispute, the consumer may refer the following arbitration center
Center for Consumer Conflict Arbitration – Porto (CICAP)
Law No 144/2015 of 08 September transposed Directive 2013 / EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on alternative dispute resolution for consumer disputes.
This law establishes the legal framework of the Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms, creating in Portugal the Consumer Arbitration Network.
What are consumer disputes?
Are disputes initiated by a consumer against a supplier of goods or service provider which comply with contractual obligations resulting from a purchase or sale or service contract concluded between a supplier of established goods or services and consumers resident in Portugal and in the European Union (Article 2 (1) of Law 144/2015.
What is RAL?
The RAL are mechanisms available to consumers and businesses to try to resolve consumer disputes out of court in a more expeditious and inexpensive way. The ADR covers mediation, conciliation and arbitration. The ADR process begins with an attempt to reach agreement through mediation or conciliation. However, if such an agreement is not reached, the parties may still appeal to the Arbitral Tribunal through a simple and rapid procedure.
What are RAL entities?
They are independent entities with specialized personnel, which impartially help the consumer and the company to reach a friendly solution. These entities are authorized to mediate, conciliate and arbitrate consumer disputes. These entities must be included in the list provided for in article 17 of Law 144/2015.
Who is responsible for managing the list of RAL entities?
The Directorate-General for Consumer Protection is the national authority responsible for organizing the registration and dissemination of the list of ADR entities (see ANNEX I).
How many RAL entities are there in Portugal?
In Portugal, there are ten Consumer Conflict Arbitration Centers. Being that, seven are of generic competence and of regional scope, being located in, Lisbon, Porto, Coimbra, Guimarães, Braga / Viana of the Castle, Algarve and Madeira. There is also the national territorial center (supplementary), the CNIACC – National Center for Information and Arbitration of Consumer Conflicts. There are also two specific competence centers in the automotive and insurance sectors.
How does a company know which RAL entity it should tell its consumers?
The place of conclusion of the contract for the purchase of goods or services, which normally coincides with the place of establishment, determines the competent arbitration center.
An enterprise which has only one or more commercial establishments in a particular municipality must indicate only the RAL entity that has the competence to conduct conflicts in that municipality.
A company that carries out its activity throughout the national territory, must indicate all to competent entities.
A vehicle repair shop, an insurance company or a travel agency shall designate specialized entities for these sectors.
Who is obliged to inform consumers about RAL entities?
All suppliers of goods and service providers, including those who only sell products or provide services over the Internet, are obliged to inform consumers about available ADR entities or to whom they have voluntarily joined or are bound by law. Only Providers of General Interest Services with no economic counterpart, such as, social services rendered by or on behalf of the state, health services and public complementary or higher education services are excluded.
The obligations arising from Law 144/2015 apply, with due adaptations, to all economic sectors not excluded by the law, including those in which there is already specific legislation that provides for the same obligation.
Is there any imposition of membership of an RAL entity?
The present law does not impose the adhesion to any ADR entity, establishing only a duty of information on the existing entities. But there is the necessary arbitration for essential public services, such as for electricity, gas, water and waste, electronic communications and postal services.
How should companies provide this information?
This information must be provided in a clear, understandable and appropriate manner to the type of good and service that is sold or provided (Article 18, paragraph 2, of Law 144/2015). Like this:
In the electronic site of suppliers of goods or service providers, if any.
In contracts of purchase or sale of services between the supplier of goods or service provider and the consumer, when these take written form or constitute adhesion contracts.
In the absence of a written form, the information shall be provided on another durable medium, in particular on a sign affixed to the wall or affixed to the counter or the invoice delivered to the consumer.
Does the law provide for a standardized model of information to be provided to consumers?
No. However, a proposal to draw up a sign is attached (Annex II).
Who is responsible for monitoring compliance with the obligation to provide information to consumers?
The Authority for Food and Economic Security and the sectoral regulators in their respective areas, the supervision of the fulfillment of these duties, the investigation of the respective processes of contra order and the decision of these processes, including the application of the fines and accessory sanctions if necessary.
What is the consequence of non-compliance with the information obligation to consumers?
Failure to comply with the information obligation of suppliers of goods or service providers constitutes an order, punishable by:
Fines between € 500 and € 5000 when committed by a natural person.
Fine between € 5000 and € 25,000, when committed by a legal person.
When does this new regime apply?
Law No 144/2015 of 8 September entered into force on 23 September 2015, with suppliers of goods or service providers having 6 months from that date to adapt to this new regime. Therefore, since 23 March 2016, companies should have this information available to their consumers.
ATTENTION: Consumer information on available RAL entities does not exempt suppliers of goods and service providers from providing consumers with the Complaints Book, mandatory under Decree-Law no. 156/2005 of 15 September.