As in the Directive, the Act on Consumer Purchase provides that all consumer products sold in the Norway must be fit for their intended purposes at the time of purchase by the consumer and must show the quality and performance which are normal in goods of the same type.
For ‘ordinary products’ there is a window of two years from delivery of a consumer product during which the consumer may claim that the product was defective at the time of delivery.
For products that ‘ given normal tear and wear – are meant to last for a considerable longer period of time’ the period under which the consumer can claim that the product is defective can be extended up to 5 years (Act on Consumer Purchase § 27). Which products that fall into this latter category has been widely discussed.
In 1998 the Supreme Court ruled that a remote control that malfunctioned after 3,5 years most likely had a defect when sold.
In September this year (reference: HR-2007-01592-A) the Supreme Court ruled that a mobile phone (a Nokia 6100) was a product that ‘was meant to last considerable longer than 2 years’. Based on general information from the organization of electronic industry the court found that a mobile phone could be expected to last for a period of 3 – 4 years. This was considedered sufficient, although statistics show that most consumers replace their phones within 2 years of purchase.
Based on the interpretation of the Supreme Court, the claim period of 5 years will extend to a wide range of products.
Manufacturers and resellers to Norway should therefore be aware of this ruling when risk and costs are allocated in their agreements (e.g. whether the dealer/seller has the right to recoup losses suffered by a consumer claim).
Although not determinative – producers/importers should also pay attention to the product labels and documentation. This may assist the manufacturers and resellers to create the correct consumer expectations for the performance of their product.
Carl Christiansen, IDI Country Expert for Norway.