UOKiK, the Polish antitrust authority, is promising that, soon now, it will take its fight against proscribed clauses in B2C contracts to a new level. The authority has just announced a competition, inviting designs for an artificial intelligence tool for preliminary analysis of contract templates in search for unlawful clauses. It is hoped that, in this way, UOKiK might improve its consumer protection capacities and assume a more proactive stance.

What are proscribed contract clauses, anyway ?

Proscribed, or abusive, clauses are contractual stipulations which have not been individually agreed upon with the consumer and which define the consumer’s rights and obligations in a manner which contravenes good business practice and which is blatantly disadvantageous for the consumer. Such clauses are non-binding by operation of the law, subject to certain exceptions where they refer to the main performances of the contract parties, e.g. the price or the remuneration, and they have been clearly formulated. 

How does enforcement work right now ?

To date, UOKiK would initiate control proceedings in response to notifications of potentially abusive clauses received from the market – most typically from consumers aggrieved at the contract terms imposed upon them by business enterprises.

... and how will it work in the future ?

UOKiK hopes that, by deploying an AI tool, it will be able to efficiently search out proscribed clauses not only in contracts or bodies of rules presented to the authority, but also proactively, by sifting through standard terms of service, template contracts, etc. posted on the websites of businesses or online stores.

From the statements by UOKiK’s President, it would appear that, once the AI tool flags a clause in documents posted online by a business enterprise, such a clause will be verified in more detail by UOKiK staff. It seems reasonable enough to presume that, in this way, UOKiK will be able to work its way through more materials in less time, and to better utilise its resources. 

 

In connection with the roll-out of automated document analysis by UOKiK, GESSEL stands ready to support you in audit of any sets of rules, terms of service, etc. for consumers posted among your company’s online resources.

 

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