Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-nmvwc Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-16T22:06:04.015Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

More Reality in the CJEU’s Interpretation of the Average Consumer Benchmark – Also More Behavioural Science in Unfair Commercial Practices?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 July 2017


The ageless question regarding the interpretation of the average consumer benchmark at EU level recently gained momentum. The Court of Justice of the European Union has de facto deviated in a judgment from a strict application of the formula of the “reasonably well informed and reasonably observant and circumspect” consumer established in Gut Springenheide. This report investigates the possible implications of this judgment on the implementation of behavioural sciences in the “average consumer” benchmark.

© Cambridge University Press 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



Assistant Professor, Wageningen University.


1 Case C-210/96 Gut Springenheide and Tusky v Oberkreisdirektor des Kreises Steinfurt [1998] ECR I-4657, para. 31.

2 Steindorff, Ernst, EG-Vertrag und Privatrecht (Nomos 1996) 195196 Google Scholar; Franck, Jens-Uwe and Purnhagen, Kai, “Homo Economicus, Behavioural Sciences, and Economic Regulation: On the Concept of Man in Internal Market Regulation and its Normative Basis” in Klaus Mathis (ed.) Law and Economics in Europe (Springer 2014) 335340 Google Scholar.

3 Case C-51/94 Commission of the European Communities v Federal Republic of Germany [1995] ECR I-3599, para. 36.

4 Stuyck, Jules, “Consumer Concepts in EU Secondary Law” in Fabian Klinck and Karl Riesenhuber (eds), Verbraucherleitbilder (de Gruyter 2015) 120f Google Scholar; Franck and Purnhagen, supra note 2, 341–343.

5 Wilhelmsson, Thomas, “The Informed Consumer v. the Vulnerable Consumer in European Unfair Commercial Practices Law – A Comment” in Geraint Howells et al. (eds), The Yearbook of Consumer Law (Ashgate 2007) 218 Google Scholar.

6 Case T-363/04 Koipe Corporación, SL v Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (Trade Marks and Designs) (OHIM) [2007] ECR II-3355, para. 109.

7 Case C-195/14 Bundesverband der Verbraucherzentralen und Verbraucherverbände - Verbraucherzentrale Bundesverband e.V. v Teekanne GmbH & Co KG, nyr.

8 Schebesta, Hanna and Purnhagen, Kai, “The Behaviour of the Average Consumer: A little less normativity and a little more reality in Court’s case law? Reflections on Teekanne” (2016) 14 ELRev 595 Google Scholar.

9 Supra note 7, para. 40.

10 Case C-333/14 Scotch Whisky Association and Others v The Lord Advocate and The Advocate General for Scotland, nyr.

11 Supra note 10, para. 56f; for a comprehensive analysis to this end see Alemanno, Alberto, “Balancing Free Movement and Public Health: The Case of Minimum Unit Pricing of Alcohol in Scotch Whisky” (2016) 53 CMLR 1037 Google Scholar; Purnhagen, Kai and Schebesta, Hanna, “A Case Moving at the Frontiers of Market Access, Freedom of Goods, the Common Agricultural Policy and Science in Court - Reflections on Scotch Whisky Association” (2017) ELRev (forthcoming)Google Scholar.

12 See, for the interdisciplinary effect of this judgment, Purnhagen and Schebesta, supra note 11.

13 Franck and Purnhagen, supra note 2, 336.

14 Nourse, Victoria and Shaffer, Gregory, “Varieties of new legal realism: Can a new world order prompt a new legal theory?” (2009) 95 Cornell Law Review 117119 Google Scholar.

15 Nourse, and Shaffer, Google Scholar, supra note 14, 119–25.

16 Faure, Michael and Luth, Hanneke, “Behavioural Economics in Unfair Contract Terms – Cautions and Considerations” (2011) 34 Journal of Consumer Policy 337 Google Scholar.

17 Posner, Richard, “Rational Choice, Behavioural Economics, and the Law” (1998) 50 Stanford Law Review 1551 CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

18 Rachlinski, Jeffrey, “New Law and Psychology: a Reply to Critics, Sceptics, and Cautious Supporters” (2000) 85 Cornell Law Review 739 Google Scholar.

19 Smith, Vernon and Walker, James, “Monetary Rewards and Decision Cost in Experimental Economics” (1993) 31 Economic Inquiry 245 Google Scholar.

20 Williams, Sean Hannon, “Sticky Expectations: Responses to Persistent Over-Optimism in Marriage, Employment Contracts, and Credit Card Use” (2009) 84 Notre Dame Law Review 733 Google Scholar.

21 Gigerenzer, Gerd and Selten, Reinhard (eds), Bounded Rationality: The Adaptive Toolbox (MIT Press 2001)Google Scholar; Gigerenzer, Gerd, Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious (Viking 2007)Google Scholar.

22 See similarly for the Unfair Contracts Terms Directive, Faure, and Luth, Google Scholar, supra note 16.

23 Purnhagen, Kai P and Feindt, Peter H, “Better Regulatory Impact Assessment” (2015) 3 European Journal of Risk Regulation 365 Google Scholar.

24 Purnhagen, Kai and Reisch, Lucia, “Nudging Germany? Herausforderungen fur eine verhaltensbasierte Regulierung in Deutschland” (2016) 24 Zeitschrift fur Europaisches Privatrecht 629 Google Scholar.

25 Schebesta, and Purnhagen, Google Scholar, supra note 8, 596f.