Entrepreneurs who sell products or provide services often use general terms and conditions to regulate the relationship with the recipient of the product or service. When the recipient is a consumer, he enjoys consumer protection. Consumer protection is created to protect the ‘weak’ consumer against the ‘strong’ entrepreneur. In order to determine whether a recipient enjoys consumer protection, it is first necessary to define what a consumer is. A consumer is a natural person who does not practice a free profession or business or a natural person who acts outside his business or professional activity. In short, a consumer is some who purchases a product or service for non-commercial, personal purposes.
Consumer protection with regard to general terms and conditions means that entrepreneurs cannot simply include everything in their general terms and conditions If a provision is unreasonably onerous, this provision does not apply to the consumer. In the Dutch Civil Code, a so-called black and grey list is included. The black list contains provisions that are always considered unreasonably onerous, the grey list contains provisions that are usually (presumably) unreasonably onerous. In case of a provision from the grey list, the company must demonstrate that this provision is reasonable. Although it is always recommended to read the general terms and conditions carefully, the consumer is also protected against unreasonable provisions by the Dutch law.