Recently the Law Decree n. 50 of the 15th of January 1992 entered into force, implementing EC Directive n. 577/85 aimed at the protection of the consumers' rights.

Said statute solely concerns companies and firms which directly manage the activity of distributing products to end-customers, contacting them outside dedicated commercial premises and which serve the consumers (to be intended as private individuals who do not utilise the purchased product for their professional activity).

Its application would definitely be limited to cases of ratherly small amounts (e.g., sales of encyclopaedias or vacuum cleaners door to door, TV auctions) if it has not been explicitly extended to mail order sales, which have expanded considerably in the last few years and which now involves many large companies and rather expensive products, amongst which one can find computers, furniture and furnishings, consumer electronics, clothing and sporting equipment.

Amongst the most important innovations introduced by the decree are the right to withdraw recognised to the purchaser (Art. 4, 5, 6), to be exercised within one week, which must be pointed out by the seller at the time of entering into the agreement; the prohibition against accepting instruments of credit with due date of less than fifteen days or to endorse them before said time limit; the obligation to reimburse any sums already received in the case of withdrawal.

Finally it should be noticed that administrative pecuniary sanctions can be ordered against anyone who contravenes the provisions of this decree, together with criminal sanctions for fraud where applicable; and that the inderogable competence of the court of the domicile of the consumer is established over any dispute which may arise between the latter and the vendor.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.