Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ

As in many countries, consumer protection has attracted more public interest in Georgia in recent years. However, even though the first Georgian constitution of 1995 named the protection of consumers as one of the government’s goals, there are still no legal provisions for consumer protection in Georgia to this day. This has a negative effect on many areas and makes it considerably harder to implement the law. The lack of any consumer protection legislation and other legal problems linked with consumer protection were therefore the subject of an online seminar, organised by IRZ in cooperation with the GLIP (Georgian Lawyers for Independent Profession) on 27 November 2020. There was a great deal of interest in this online seminar, with more than 120 people taking part, most of them lawyers.

IRZ expert Arnd Weishaupt, a judge at the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf, opened the event with a presentation of the legal framework for consumer protection in the EU and Germany, and gave plenty of detail for some problem areas such as loan and insurance agreements, as well as online retail and doorstep selling. Tamar Lakerbaia, a judge at the Local Court of Tbilisi, contrasted the German perspective with the current legal situation in Georgia. She reported with regret on the many years of fruitless efforts to adopt a framework law for protecting consumers. She was, however, optimistic that the newly elected Georgian parliament would approve the law during this legislative term. In this respect, Tamar Lakerbaia drew the participants’ attention to the Association Agreement concluded in 2014 between the EU and Georgia and reminded them of Georgia’s associated obligation to harmonise national laws with EU law, including in the area of consumer protection.

The Georgian speaker went on to give a short presentation of the national case law and emphasised in particular that, despite the lack of any legal basis, judges in Georgia are committed to guaranteeing effective consumer protection and are largely guided by EU directives when it comes to consumer rights issues.

Long and lively discussions followed on from the lectures. The participants agreed that the legal regulation of consumer protection is long overdue in Georgia and is really needed. IRZ will therefore continue to pursue the topic of consumer protection rights in Georgia next year and to advise their Georgian partners on possible reforms in this area.