Is it possible to charge the consumer with the costs of debt collection?
Nowadays, consumers enter into many different contracts, often for large sums and binding both parties for long periods. Of course, one should not ignore the commonly concluded contracts in everyday life, those of less importance, the number of which is also concluded during the day. However, in what situations is it possible to charge the consumer with the costs of debt collection?
Ready contracts and additional debt collection costs
The key thing is that, regardless of the type of contract, and the entity with which we conclude it, it has become a common practice to use ready-made contract templates. The use of standard contracts when concluding contracts undoubtedly significantly facilitates the entire transaction process, however, at the same time, they pose a certain risk for the consumer, which could be used, for example, by an entrepreneur who, thanks to his stronger position, could impose unfavorable provisions in the contract with the contractor.
Therefore, the consumer's awareness plays a very important role when reading the contract template presented to him. In this regard, the consumer has the opportunity to check whether a given provision contained in the contract is lawful. For this purpose, on the website of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection, we can find a set of provisions recognized by the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection as prohibited.
Charging the consumer with the costs of debt collection
Among the thousands of prohibited contractual clauses, one can distinguish those that are often used in legal transactions. An example of such an example is the clause that is frequently repeated and is used in a lease as follows:
In the event of failure to comply with the terms of this contract and the emergence of an obligation on the part of the Lessee, the Lessee shall bear the costs of debt recovery carried out by the Law Firm rented by the Lessor..
Of course, the above provision does not have to be word for word, the same is true, it is important to charge the consumer with the costs of debt collection. Undoubtedly, such a practice is against the interests of the consumer, therefore the Court of Competition and Consumer Protection ruled that a contractual provision with such content is unacceptable and this clause was entered in the register of the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection on October 19, 2015 (item 6179), on pursuant to the judgment of the SOKiK of November 18, 2014 (file no. XVII AmC 12721/12).
Who bears the costs for debt collection activities if they are not specified in the contract?
In the opinion of the court, if the contract does not clearly specify what activities fall within the scope of the given debt collection company (in particular, the price list is not specified), the consumer takes the risk of being charged with amounts whose amount cannot be predicted. Such an operation may not be allowed due to the fact that the consumer is the weaker party in trade and has no chance in the face of a professional entrepreneur. No consumer should bear the risk for the activities of the entity hired to obtain benefits from him, and what is worse, for costs unknown to him, freely determined.
The forbidden clause, so far commonly used in templates in the field of rental contracts, shaped the resulting legal relationship as uncertain and unpredictable, which undoubtedly violates good manners and grossly violates the interests of the consumer, for whom the law provides for special protection in relations with professionals.