Obligations on Providers

The provider of a service must provide information in relation to various matters. In some cases, the service provider must provide the service recipient with certain key information in prescribed EU languages. They apply to both domestic and external and providers in other member states. There are further detailed provisions in relation to members of a regulated profession.

Providers of services which present a risk to health or safety or to financial security may be required to subscribe to professional liability insurance appropriate to the relevant risks or provide an equivalent guarantee.

Member states shall, in cooperation with the Commission take accompanying measures to encourage providers to take action on a voluntary basis in order to ensure the quality of service provided, in particular through certification or assessment of their activities by an independent or accredited body and the drawing up of their own quality charter or participation in a quality charters or labels.

Service  Providers to Furnish Information

There is a number of provisions designed to encourage a high quality of services and to provide information and transparency in relation to service providers and services.    They provide for binding obligations for service providers and encourage voluntary measures.

The Member States must ensure service providers make certain information available to recipients without being asked for including:-

  • name, address, legal status and contact details of the provider;
  • whether it is registered in a trade or other register;
  • whether it is registered under an authorisation scheme,
  • details of the relevant authority and point of single contact; and
  • VAT number

In case of regulated professionals, the professional body’s terms and conditions applicable to the provision of services must be provided including those related to jurisdiction, after-sales guarantee, prices pre-determined, the main features of the services and professional guarantee. The information must be reasonably accessible where the service is provided.  It must be available electronically and must appear on any information documents that the provider uses to describe the services.

Information Available on Request

The Member States must ensure that service providers make certain information available to recipients on request.  This includes:

  • prices or the method of determining price;
  • any applicable professional rules and where access can be obtained;
  • information on service providers, disciplinary activities and measures taken to avoid conflicts;
  • details of any code of conduct to which a provider is subject;
  • any information as to non-judicial means of dispute settlement to which the provider is subject as a member of a trade or professional association.

This information must be communicated in a clear and unambiguous manner in good time before the conclusion of the contract of services.

Insurance and Consumer Protection

The Member States must ensure that where the service providers pose a risk to the health and safety of third parties or to the financial security of the recipient, that they must take out professional liability insurance or provide a comparable guarantee. This cannot, however, be required where the provider is already covered by equivalent insurance or guarantee in the Member State in which they are established.

The Member States must remove total prohibitions on commercial communications (e.g. promotional advertising) by regulated professionals.  They may, however, ensure that commercial communications comply with relevant professional rules.

Member States are required to encourage providers to take action to ensure the quality of services by way of certification, or assessment by independent bodies or drawing up quality charters or tables.   The Member States must also take measures to encourage professional bodies to co-operate to promote quality of service, encourage the development of independent assessments and the development of European standards with the aim of facilitating compatibility between the different Member States.

Ensuring Compliance

The Member States must ensure:-

  • contact details are supplied to which a recipient in any state can send a complaint or request for information;
  • that the service provider responds to complaints in the shortest possible time;
  • that the service provider demonstrates compliance with obligations in the directive; and
  • that the service provider informs recipients of any code of conduct or membership of a trade association or professional body that provides a recourse to non-judicial means of dispute resolution.

The provision also requires that where judicial decision requires lodging a financial guarantee Member States must recognise financial guarantees lodged with an institution established in other states.

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