Central to this blog is the European Regulation 2019/1150 to promote fairness and transparency for business users of online intermediation services, the so-called Platform-to-business Regulation (hereinafter: the P2B Regulation). This Regulation entered into force on 12 July 2020 and imposes obligations on online intermediation services and online search engines in the EU (art. 1 paragraph 2 P2B Regulation). The purpose of the P2B Regulation is to better protect business users of these platforms.
What are online intermediaries?
An online intermediary service is an online platform. This includes online marketplaces for electronic commerce, as well as app stores, social media and sharing platforms. art. 2 paragraph 2 P2B Regulation sets three requirements to meet the definition of online intermediation services:
1. They constitute information society services.
2. They give business users the opportunity to offer goods or services to consumers.
3. They are provided to business users on the basis of contractual relationships between the provider of such services and business users who offer goods or services to consumers;
Examples include a platform such as Amazon and eBay, on which companies can offer their products online. Booking.com, Airbnb and the Apple App Store also fall under the scope of the P2B Regulation.
What rules does the Regulation impose?
The P2B Regulation mainly contains rules in the field of transparency. For example, the general terms and conditions of providers of online intermediation services must be formulated in clear and understandable language and must be readily available to business users (Article 3(1) of the P2B Regulation). In addition, the terms and conditions must contain sufficient information on certain topics, such as the reasons for decisions to suspend, terminate or otherwise restrict the use of the platform by business users (Art. 4 P2B Regulation). If the online intermediation service provider decides to terminate the use, it must inform the seller of this 30 days before the termination takes effect (Art. 4 para. 2 P2B Regulation).
If the general terms and conditions are to be changed, the seller first has a notice period of 15 days within which he can determine whether or not he agrees with the new terms and conditions (Article 3, paragraph 2, P2B Regulation). This notice period does not apply if the change is the result of a legal obligation of the online intermediation service provider.
Disputes between seller and platform
For disputes, the platforms must have an internal complaint handling system. Sellers must be able to submit their complaint here quickly and easily (art. 11 P2B Regulation). In addition, these platforms must appoint two or more mediators with whom they can settle disputes out of court (art. 12 P2B Regulation). These intermediaries must, among other things, be impartial, independent and affordable. Should legal proceedings nevertheless arise, organizations and associations with a legitimate interest in representing business users have the right to file a claim on behalf of the sellers (art. 14 P2B Regulation).
Enforcement in the Netherlands
The Dutch government is currently working on a bill to implement the Regulation. In this it is proposed to charge ACM with the administrative supervision of compliance with the P2B Regulation (Article 3 of the bill). In the performance of its duties, ACM is authorized to impose administrative fines amounting to a maximum of €870,000 or 1% of the platform’s turnover (Article 6 of the bill).
However, ACM’s enforcement powers are limited to violations that could harm the collective interest of sellers. It therefore does not steal a role in individual disputes, but only comes into play if there is a violation of the collective seller’s interest (Article 5 of the bill).
The P2B Regulation thus provides legal protection for sellers on platforms of online intermediation service providers such as Amazon and eBay. This protection mainly consists of transparent and comprehensible general terms and conditions and separate dispute resolution. In the Netherlands, ACM is expected to be charged with the administrative supervision of compliance with the P2B Regulation.
Do you have questions about the P2B Regulation? Or do you have questions about international commercial law and corporate law in general? Do not hesitate to contact one of our lawyers .