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An abusive clause refers to a contractual provision that unfairly favors one party at the expense of the other, creating a significant imbalance in their rights and obligations. These clauses are considered unfair and are typically prohibited under consumer protection laws. When a court determines that a clause is abusive, it is deemed null and void, meaning it is unenforceable. The purpose of identifying and nullifying abusive clauses is to protect consumers from unfair practices and ensure a fair and equitable balance between contractual parties. Courts play a crucial role in safeguarding individuals’ rights and preventing the exploitation of consumers through the recognition and elimination of abusive clauses.
The clause of a contract which makes the total price of tuition a package fully acquired by the school as soon as the contract is signed is abusive when it does not provide for the possibility of early termination for a legitimate and compelling reason .
This is what the Court of Cassation decided in a recent judgment. In this case, a student had enrolled in qualifying hairdressing and aesthetics training for the year. Very quickly, she had decided to stop taking classes. The student invoked the abusive nature of the clause requiring him to pay the full tuition fee.
Refund of Tuition
The recent decision of the Court of Cassation highlights the issue of refunding tuition fees. In the case at hand, a student enrolled in a vocational hairdressing and beauty course decided to discontinue her studies shortly after enrollment. However, the school insisted that she was obligated to pay the full tuition fee according to the contract. The Court of Cassation ruled in favor of the student, deeming the clause that required payment of the entire tuition fee as abusive. Such a clause creates a significant imbalance between the rights and obligations of the parties involved. Consequently, abusive clauses are considered null and void, and the consumer is not bound by them.
The Court of Cassation agreed with him on this point. For the Court, in fact, such a clause is abusive because it creates, to the detriment of the student “a significant imbalance between the rights and obligations of the parties”.
Unfair terms are deemed unwritten. That is to say that they are supposed not to exist and are therefore not opposable to the consumer even if they appear in the contract.
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