Duration of the legal guarantee for new and second-hand goods
For new goods, the legal guarantee lasts for 2 years, with this period beginning when the goods are delivered. For used goods, the seller and the buyer can reach an agreement designating a reduced liability period which, however, must be no shorter than 1 year.
Responsibility for repairing the product where there is a lack of conformity with the sales contract, including defects
The seller is responsible for any lack of conformity present when the goods are delivered. Therefore the consumer must always and in any case contact the seller, who is the only party with whom he has entered into a contractual relationship. The manufacturer must account in the first instance for any lack of conformity in goods delivered to the consumer only where he can also be considered the ‘seller’, i.e. where he makes direct sales to customers.
Does the consumer have to notify the seller of the defect? What are the deadlines for notification?
Yes, the consumer must notify the seller of the defect and must take direct action to enforce his rights regarding defects (i.e. report the fault) in any event within a maximum period of 26 months (24 months plus 2 months from the date on which the defect was discovered) from the delivery of the goods.
Who is responsible for demonstrating the presence or lack of defect upon delivery? How much time do they have to do this from the moment delivery takes place?
The burden of proof is shared between the seller and the consumer, based on the moment at which the defect becomes apparent. Two different situations may arise:
- In the absence of evidence to the contrary, you must assume that any lack of conformity that becomes apparent within 6 months of the goods being delivered already existed at that date and, therefore, it is the responsibility of the seller to demonstrate that the goods were fully compliant, and that the defect reported by the consumer arose following delivery;
- On the other hand, if defects become apparent more than 6 months after delivery, it will be the consumer who must provide evidence that the defect was present at the time of delivery.
What solutions must the seller offer (remedy, replacement, repair, price reduction, termination of the contract), at what stage of the legal guarantee and under what conditions; information about the gradual nature of corrective measures
Where there is a lack of conformity during the legal guarantee period, the consumer is entitled in the first instance to the repair or replacement of the goods (primary remedies) free of charge to ‘bring the goods into conformity’; as an alternative, if this is not possible because the two primary remedies are not practicable, the consumer can request a price reduction or termination of the contract (secondary remedies).
There is a hierarchy of consumer protection tools in place; in fact, the consumer may request a price reduction and termination of the contract only in the cases provided for by law (Article 130 of the Italian Consumer Code).
The seller may however offer the consumer ‘any other remedy available’ to amicably resolve the dispute and the consumer is free to accept or to refuse.
Are there third-party bodies commissioned to provide evidence of the defect?
There are no third-party bodies commissioned to provide evidence of the defect.
Are there other legal guarantees provided under national law, other than the legal guarantee of conformity?
Article 1490 of the Italian Civil Code establishes that the seller must guarantee that the item sold is free from defects that render it unsuitable for its intended use or significantly reduce the value. However, while it is possible to derogate from this guarantee under contract, the protection offered to the consumer by the Consumer Code cannot be diminished in any way by the will of the parties (inalienability of consumer rights).