In its judgment in Case C‑28/18, the Court of EU rules that Article 9(2) of Regulation (EU) No 260/2012 establishing technical and business requirements for credit transfers and direct debits in euro must be interpreted as precluding a contractual clause, which excludes payment by direct debit in euros under the European Union-wide direct debit scheme (SEPA direct debit) where the payer does not have his place of residence in the same Member State as that in which the payee has established his place of business.
The request for a preliminary ruling has been made in proceedings between the Verein für Konsumenteninformation (Consumer Information Association) and Deutsche Bahn AG. It concerns a clause included in the general conditions of carriage of the German rail transport company, according to which tickets booked on Deutsche Bahn’s website may be paid for by means of the SEPA direct debit scheme only if the payer is resident in Germany.
Consumers most often have a payment account in the Member State in which they are resident. That’s why, the requirement to have a place of residence in the national territory indirectly amounts to indicating the Member State in which the payment account must be situated, which the payee is expressly prohibited from doing by the regulation. By such a prohibition, the regulation aims, in respect of payments by direct debit, to allow consumers to use a single payment account for any transaction carried out within the European Union, thus reducing costs associated with maintaining several payment accounts.
In this regard it is irrelevant that the consumer may use alternative methods of payment, such as credit card, PayPal or credit transfer.
While payees remain free either to offer payers the possibility of making payments by SEPA direct debit or not, when they do offer such a possibility those payees may not subject the use of that payment method to conditions which undermine the practical effects of the prohibition on requiring that the payment account is located in a specific Member State.
Furthermore, nothing prevents a payee from reducing the risk of abuse or of default on payment by, for example, providing that delivery or printing of tickets will only be possible once the payee has received confirmation that the payment has actually been collected.