European Union (EU) consumers may bring proceedings before the courts in their own member state against traders in other member states even if they had visited the trader to conclude the contract, the EU’s top court has ruled.

The ruling takes into account a 2002 amendment to European contract law that removed the requirement for contracts to be concluded ‘at a distance’ if disputes are to be heard in the consumer’s own member state.

The case before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) concerned an Austrian woman who, while in Austria, found a car advertised online by a German dealer. She travelled to Germany to complete the transaction, but later discovered that the car was defective. The dealer refused to repair the vehicle and so she brought proceedings in the Austrian courts, whose international jurisdiction the dealer disputed.

The CJEU (pictured) dismissed the dealer’s argument, ruling that bringing proceedings before the courts of a consumer’s own member state was not subject to the condition that the contract was concluded at a distance.