New rules on low monetary value consumer conflicts

16 August 2019 saw the publication in the Official Gazette (Diário da República) of Law No. 63/2019, which introduces the fifth amendment to the Consumer Protection Law (Law No. 24/96, of 31 July).

The amendment in question is related to consumers’ legal protection, and more specifically consumers’ access to arbitration centres for consumer conflicts.

The most important of the new changes to the law is the requirement that all low monetary value consumer conflicts – up to €5,000.00 – must be submitted to necessary arbitration or mediation when, at the express option of the consumer, they are submitted for the appreciation of an arbitral tribunal affiliated to legally authorised consumer conflict arbitration centres.

The new wording also lays down that the consumer must be notified of the commencement of proceedings and may be represented in these by a lawyer or paralegal, or, in the event of a lack of financial means for this, legal aid may be requested.

Consumers are no longer required to pay the court fees in advance, these being calculated at the end of the proceedings instead.

The amendment now introduced facilitates consumers’ access to consumer conflict arbitration centres, and is therefore coherent with a system that is increasingly geared towards protecting the consumer.

This amendment will come into force on 16 September 2019.