L-R: Claude Fellens, Mediator of Consumption; Franz Fayot, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy; Credit: MECO

On Tuesday 23 March 2021, Luxembourg's Minister of the Economy, Franz Fayot, and the Mediator of Consumption, Claude Fellens, presented the 2020 report of the National Service of the Mediator of Consumption (Service national du médiateur de la consommation - SNMC) at a press conference.

In 2020, the SNMC received a total of 545 requests, which represents an increase of 18.5% compared to 2019. In 2020, 97.6% of applicants were consumers and 2.4% were professionals. In 51.2% of the applications made last year, one of the parties did not reside or have a place of establishment in Luxembourg.

The primary role of the SNMC is to inform consumers and professionals about the progress of the out-of-court settlement process for consumer disputes. In 134 cases, consumers and professionals requested information on the out-of-court settlement of a consumer dispute, which represents an increase of 30% compared to 2019.

Secondly, the SNMC is competent to receive any request for out-of-court settlement of a consumer dispute. When a request relates to a consumer dispute for which another entity is competent (such as the ILR or the CSSF), the SNMC transmits this request immediately to the entity in question. In 2020, a total of 211 requests were forwarded to other entities or institutions.

The third competence of the SNMC is that of dealing with a consumer dispute itself when no other qualified entity is competent to do so. Among the 190 such requests submitted in 2020 (up 47.3% compared to 2019), there were five applications in the field of construction, nineteen in the automotive sector, 23 in the real estate sector, two in the field of law firms, fifteen in the transport sector, 46 in the field of online commerce and 80 in other areas (e.g. between private individuals, fashion, furniture stores, dry cleaning, etc.).

The number of mediation cases handled and closed by the SNMC in 2020 increased by 8.3%.

Extension of the SNMC's field of competence and approval of agreements

A bill has just been tabled suggesting to extend the field of material competence of the SNMC to certain disputes between professionals, i.e. those for which one of the professionals concerned does not act directly within the framework of of his / her professional activity. This extension comes in response to requests to the SNMC from professionals for disputes with their suppliers of goods or services, most often due to payment terms not respected, or services or goods allegedly defective or not in accordance with contractual stipulations.

In order to give them enforceability, the bill in question also recommends introducing into the Luxembourg Consumer Code the possibility for a party to request the approval of agreements resulting from the out-of-court settlement procedure of a dispute processed by the SNMC.