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Office of Competition and Consumer Protection

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Annexes to credit holidays - the position of the UOKiK President

< previous | next > 28.04.2020

Annexes to credit holidays - the position of the UOKiK President
  • UOKiK President Tomasz Chróstny issued his position on the annexes to the so-called credit holidays.
  • In the opinion of the UOKiK President, there are no grounds for including provisions concerning confirmation of the debt balance in the annexes or applications for credit instalments deferral.
  • The position is available at finanse.uokik.gov.pl.

The Office of Competition and Consumer Protection has been receiving a number of complaints related to the rules of offering so-called credit holidays. As we informed, UOKiK President Tomasz Chróstny initiated an investigation into the conditions under which financial institutions offer borrowers the deferral of instalment repayments.

“Deferral of instalment repayment, i.e. granting so-called credit holidays by banks, takes place in an extraordinary situation, which is the coronavirus epidemic. For a week now, as part of our investigation, we have been verifying how banks, when granting credit holidays, inform consumers about this fact. At the same time, it is important for us to ensure that the documents accompanying the annexes do not contain any provisions that might, in the long-term, be detrimental to consumers. Also, the very fact that a consumer has concluded an annex may be interpreted by some banks as a recognition of the debt, which could possibly hinder consumers from exercising their rights under a mortgage loan or consumer credit agreement in the future. We want to eliminate questionable provisions as soon as possible, in order to ensure that developed solutions explicitly safeguard consumer rights,” says Tomasz Chróstny, UOKiK President.

The Office's primary concern are the provisions implying that the consumer has recognized a specific amount of debt under the contract. These can be found in the annexes or in applications for credit holidays. First, they may violate good practices as they enforce making a declaration not related to the purpose of signing the annex, i.e. to defer credit repayment. Second - if interpreted against borrowers - they may hinder the consumer from exercising their rights in court. To clarify arising doubts, the Office has developed a position in which it describes the legal effects of concluding annexes related to the granting of credit holidays and the banks' practices in this respect. The position of the President of the UOKiK can be downloaded from the website: finanse.uokik.gov.pl.

“We have developed a legal position to facilitate banks in meeting consumer needs. This position, in the form of a legal analysis, should dispel any doubts whatsoever on the part of the banks that, as institutions of public trust, should take the side of the consumers, thus strengthening the sector's reputation. At the same time, it supports consumers who might have doubts as to whether the annexes they have signed would not be against them. Building the sector's reputation calls for a pro-consumer approach towards banks' relations with customers,” adds UOKiK President.

Key conclusions from the position of the UOKiK President:

  1. Provisions relating to the debt balance may be considered unlawful and therefore not binding on consumers.

According to the UOKiK President, it is unlawful to subject the deferral of instalments to the confirmation of the debt balance. The recognition of the debt may have a negative impact on the consumer exercising their rights in court, e.g. when demanding the cancellation of a credit agreement or claiming reimbursement of unduly excessive instalments. Such provisions may be regarded as abusive and shall not be binding on the consumer.

  1. Signing the annex does not prevent the borrower from questioning the provisions of the agreement even if it includes a provision on recognizing the credit balance calculated by the entrepreneur.

Suggesting to consumers that the conclusion of an annex prevents them from seeking claims, including the subsequent annullment of the agreement or declaring the terms thereof unlawful, may be considered an unfair market practice.

  1. The conclusion of an annex does not mean that the provisions thereof have been agreed upon individually.

In practice, when opting for credit holidays, the consumer can only accept the content of an as-is template submitted by the bank. Thus, the consumer cannot object to individual annex provisions, while accepting its other contractual terms at the same time. Moreover, when applying for a credit repayment deferral, the consumer is usually in a difficult financial situation due to the loss of job or a reduced income, and it is their and their families' very existence that depends on an urgent deferral of loan or credit instalment repayment. Given such circumstances, one can hardly speak of "individual consultations" of terms. This means that the borrower still has the possibility to object to the unlawful provisions contained in the annex providing for the so-called credit holidays.

“The position of the UOKiK President should as soon as possible dispel the doubts of both consumers and banks. I do believe that banks, for the sake of their clients and their own and the entire sector's reputation, shall all the faster withdraw from both the questionable provisions accompanying credit holidays and the temptation to use the annexes in court proceedings against consumers,” says Tomasz Chróstny, the UOKiK President. On 17th April, the President of the Office requested the Polish Bank Association to present a clear position on this issue - we are now waiting for the reply.

Dear consumer, before you decide to defer instalment repayment:

  1. Read the annex thoroughly and carefully - you have the right to read it before you accept it.
  2. Familiarize yourself with the credit repayment schedule and with amount of instalments due upon the termination of credit holidays.
  3. Specify the cost of credit holiday you are going to incur.
  4. Consider whether this solution is actually good for you.
  5. You have 14 days to cancel the signed annex to the credit agreement. You do not have to do it personally at the bank's premises. Write a declaration of cancelling the agreement and send it to the bank.
  6. Should you have any doubt or suspicion of a violation of consumer rights, you can contact the Helpline at 801 440 220 and 22 290 89 16 or write an e-mail to the address: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]. Telephone and e-mail legal aid is financed from UOKiK funds.. You may also notify the Office of the banks' activities by sending your notification to [SCODE]bW9uaXRvcmluZ0B1b2tpay5nb3YucGw=[ECODE].

Consumer support:

Phone: +48 801 440 220 or 22 290 89 16 – consumer helpline
e-mail: [SCODE]cG9yYWR5QGRsYWtvbnN1bWVudG93LnBs[ECODE]
Consumer Ombudsmen – in your town or district
Regional Consumer Centres: Phone: +48 22 299 60 – Dlakonsumenta.pl

Additional information for the media:

UOKiK Press Office
Pl. Powstańców Warszawy 1, 00-950 Warszawa, Poland
Phone +48 695 902 088, +48 22 55 60 246
E-mail: [SCODE]Yml1cm9wcmFzb3dlQHVva2lrLmdvdi5wbA==[ECODE]
Twitter: @UOKiKgovPL

Attached files

 

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