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03 May 2021
E-commerce and online trade have become popular business tools for promoting, offering and selling goods and services online, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Russia is a big e-market and will doubtless continue developing. In 2020 online sales accounted for nearly 10% of all retail sales in Russia.(1) E-commerce growth, which reached 28% in Russia in 2019, accelerated to 44% in 2020.(2) The Russian Online Retail Association predicts that by 2025 the Russian e-market will be worth $128.8 billion.(3)
From a legal perspective, online trade is governed by:
Further, online trade is subject to the Law on Protection of Consumers' Rights (7 February 1992 (2300-1)).
On a lower law level and in support of the main retail principles provided by the Civil Code and the Consumer Protection Law, the government has set certain specific requirements for e-commerce. On 1 January 2021 the New Rules for Sales of Goods in Retail, adopted by Resolution 2463 (31 December 2020), took effect. Further, on 18 March 2021 potential changes to the consumer dispute resolution procedure were announced at an official government meeting.
This article describes the basic regulations that govern online sales and highlights the important provisions of the new e-commerce rules. It also comments on the suggested initiative relating to the consumer dispute resolution procedure.
Online sales fall within the notion of 'distant sales' under Article 26(1) of the Consumer Protection Law. The key provisions of such law are as follows:
The above provisions are mandatory under local consumer law. The Supreme Court has already confirmed that Russian law applies to foreign e-shops if their business activity is aimed at Russian consumers.(4) The Supreme Court has further clarified that an e-shop can be considered as targeted at Russian consumers if:
The new e-commerce rules replace the rules on online trade in Russia which were adopted in 2007. The new e-commerce rules contain more specific and updated legal requirements:
On 18 March 2021 Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin specifically addressed the issue of online trade at an official government meeting. He highlighted that the government has prepared amendments relating to the consumer dispute resolution procedure.
The amendments will aim to launch a special service on the Unified Portal of Public Services (to be called 'Gosusligi and commonly used services among Russian audience'). It will provide consumers with a legal opportunity to contact e-stores and present claims against products. During the dispute settlement process, consumers will be able to:
As mentioned above, the new e-commerce rules oblige the seller to inform the consumer of the form and method of submitting claims and bringing actions. If such information is not provided by the seller, the consumer may file a claim against the seller in any form or by any means.
The new e-commerce rules took effect on 1 January 2021. The Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing (Rospotrebnadzor) must ensure that law enforcement practice in the field of distant sales under a retail sale and purchase agreement is monitored and subsequently submit a report to the government by 1 July 2021. Rospotrebnadzor will soon release further news and practices as well as updated case law.
In the meantime, local and foreign online businesses must check their compliance with the existing terms of sale and other legal documents that regulate the e-commerce rights and obligations published on their e-stores. This is also relevant for mobile applications and software services. Businesses should correct any inconsistencies with the new e-commerce rules promptly.
Due to the ever-increasing importance of online trade and the expansion of e-commerce platforms, national and international businesses which operate in Russia must monitor legal developments in this area.
For further information on this topic please contact Sergey Medvedev or Ilya Goryachev at Gorodissky & Partners by telephone (+7 495 937 6116) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or email@example.com). The Gorodissky & Partners website can be accessed at www.gorodissky.com.
(1) For further information please see the Statista website.
(2) For further information please see the Paypers website.
(3) For further information please see the Switzerland Global Enterprise website.
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