A consumer contract is a legally binding agreement between the trader and the consumer concerning the sale of goods or the supply of services.
4.1 Contract terms
The terms in consumer contracts define the rights and obligations of the contractual parties. Some consumer contracts contain standard terms and conditions which consumers are requested to sign.
4.1.1 Consumer rights
Sales contracts should include the following information:
the main characteristics of the goods or services purchased;
the name and contact details of the trader or service provider;
total price agreed;
where applicable the arrangements for payment and delivery;
where applicable the duration of the contract and the conditions for terminating the contract;
other arrangements verbally agreed upon before the contract of sale was concluded.
When traders do not adhere to the agreed contract terms, consumers have the right to opt-out of the contract and claim back any money paid.
Consumers may request the seller to provide a free remedy in cases where the product or service does not conform to the original sales agreement.
If no agreement is reached with the seller, you can lodge a complaint through the Online Form.
4.1.2 Consumer responsibilities
Consumers are responsible to carefully read and understand contract clauses before signing. If necessary, consumers should ask for a copy of the contract to check it quietly at home before signing it.
Any unclear terms should be discussed with the trader before signing. Consumers must make sure that any amended contracts are signed by the trader.
If a deposit is paid, consumers must ensure that they are given proof of payment and that the amount of deposit paid is included in the contract of sale.
Consumers must check that the conditions of sale agreed upon are written in the contract of sale.
Consumers should remember that once a sale is confirmed they cannot change their minds. There may be financial penalties to pay if they do, or they may be obliged to fully honour the original sales agreement.
4.1.3 Unfair contract terms
A contract term is considered unfair if, on its own or together with other terms in the contract, it creates a significant imbalance in the consumer's rights and obligations of the consumer vis-à-vis those of the seller/supplier.
An unfair term tries to diminish or take away consumers’ legal rights.
Unfair contract terms are not binding on consumers and when a contract cannot continue to exist without the unfair term, then the whole contract becomes legally unenforceable.
4.1.3a Examples of unfair contract terms
Consumer contracts that may include terms that:
Limit or exclude the trader’s liability for every possible eventuality;
Allows just the trader to terminate the contract of sale;
Penalizes only the consumer for breach or termination of the contract;
Enables only the trader to alter the terms of the contract unilaterally without a valid reason not specified in the contract;
Tolerates just one party to automatically extend a contract of a fixed duration where the consumer does not indicate otherwise;
Allows the trader to increase the price after the sales agreement is concluded;
Clauses that establish an unreasonably short period of time for notifying the trader of any defects;
In case of cancellation require consumers to pay the trader as compensation a sum which is disproportionately high to the value of the goods or services purchased or hired;
Give the trader the exclusive right to interpret any term of the contract;
Allows the trader the right to alter the period for delivering goods or supplying a service.
It is also prohibited to irrevocably bind consumers to terms with which they had no real opportunity of becoming acquainted before the conclusion of the contract.
Contract terms must not be difficult to understand and must be clearly legible. In case of disputes, unclear terms are interpreted in favour of the consumer.
4.1.3b Report an unfair contract term
Businesses making use of unfair contract terms may be reported to the Office for Consumer Affairs within the MCCAA.
How to report an Unfair Contract Term?
By letter or email
You can send a letter addressed to the Enforcement Directorate, Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority, Mizzi House, National Road, Blata l-Bajda, HMR 9010.