Italian Law Journal
Recent changes in EU law provide flexibility and protection to consumers, facilitating early repayment of loans, when the consumer is no longer interested in continuing a credit relationship. From an economic point of view, early repayment of loans should be facilitated, because it allows money that is no longer needed to be put to other desirable uses. Under current EU law, as recently interpreted in the Lexitor judgment by the Court of Justice of the European Union, upon early repayment of a loan, consumers can obtain a pro-rated reimbursement of all the up-front and recurring costs of the loan, including origination fees and ancillary service costs. In this brief article, we take a critical look at the current EU approach to this issue, suggesting that, while the legislature made the pragmatic choice in permitting partial reimbursement of up-front costs, this leads to several economic inefficiencies that can ultimately hurt the consumer. Repayment of up-front costs, and of any other sunk cost associated with the creation of the loan, can lead to a suboptimal mix of lending contracts. Some consumers could, in fact, take out a lower interest rate long-term credit, even though they may only need a short-term loan, and this would create a disadvantage for the overall class of consumers. In order to actually protect the economic interest of consumers and carry out the intent of the legislature, we conclude that the up-front costs for non-mandatory ancillary services (such as brokerage fees, etc.) should not be included in the costs that are eligible for reimbursement in the event of early repayment of the loan. By excluding these costs, consumers will not be incentivized to overconsume such services, minimizing the negative externalities imposed on other consumers.
Enrico Baffi and Francesco Parisi, Early Repayment of Loans Under EU Law: The Lexitor Judgment, 7 227 (2021), available at https://scholarship.law.umn.edu/faculty_articles/730.