Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (370)

Eoghan Murphy


370. Deputy Eoghan Murphy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation if his attention has been drawn to the fact that a company (details supplied) charge €3.75 per bill for non direct debit payments of bills; if it is illegal to fine persons for choosing a particular method of payment where no financial justification is found for the charge; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8840/13]

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Written answers (Question to Jobs)

My Department’s consultation paper of September 2012 on Article 19 (Fees for the use of means of payment) and Article 22 (Additional payments) of Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Right gives details of payment charges applied by a number of traders, including the charge referred to in the details supplied by the Deputy.

Article 52(3) of Directive 2007/64/EC on Payment Services in the Internal Market states that a ‘payment service provider shall not prevent the payee from requesting a charge or from offering a reduction for the use of a given payment instrument.’ Article 52(3) gave Member States discretion to ‘forbid or limit the right to request charges taking into account the need to encourage competition and forbid the use of efficient payment instruments’. Ireland, in common with 12 other Member States including Germany and the United Kingdom, chose not to give effect to this option. Accordingly, it is not unlawful per se for traders in Ireland to impose charges on consumers for the use of a particular method of payment.

Article 19 of Directive 2011/83/EU provides that Member States ‘shall prohibit traders from charging consumers in respect of the use of a given means of payment, fees that exceed the cost borne by the trader for the use of such means.’ Though this Article does not prohibit payment charges as such, it aims to ensure that such charges reflect the real cost of payment instruments to the trader and are not used as a source of additional revenue.

Shortly after the adoption of the Directive, I stated my intention to give early effect to the provisions of Article 19 and Article 22. To this end, my Department issued the consultation paper on the implementation of the two Articles referred to above. One of the issues raised by the consultation has required my Department to seek legal advice from the Attorney General and the European Commission. Subject to the satisfactory resolution of the legal issue concerned, it remains my intention to give early effect to Articles 19 and 22.