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  • Writer's pictureHigor Barbosa

Marketplaces in Focus: Analyzing the Legal Challenges between Brazil and Europe. Are You Ready?

Have you ever imagined what your life would be like without marketplaces? These digital platforms that connect sellers and buyers of products or services, facilitating transactions between them, are part of our daily lives and offer various advantages such as greater variety, convenience, competitiveness, and efficiency. But did you know that behind these conveniences, there are also various legal and regulatory challenges that can impact the operation, reputation, and profitability of marketplaces?

In this article, we will address some of the main legal and regulatory challenges that marketplaces face, such as:

1. Definition of the legal nature and role of marketplaces

One of the initial legal and regulatory challenges for marketplaces is defining their legal nature and role in the relationship between parties. This involves determining whether marketplaces are mere intermediaries, facilitating contact and transactions between sellers and buyers, or if they are service providers offering guarantees, support, logistics, and payment. This definition can have implications for the civil, criminal, and administrative liability of marketplaces, as well as their taxation and regulation.

In Brazil, the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) has decided that marketplaces are intermediaries, not suppliers, of products and services. Therefore, they are not jointly liable for damages caused to consumers by sellers unless they act with fault or intent, or violate the duty of information, transparency, and security.

In the European Union, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has ruled that marketplaces can be considered providers of information society services. Therefore, they may benefit from the liability exemption provided in the E-Commerce Directive, as long as they do not play an active role in selecting, verifying, or presenting the products or services offered by sellers.

2. Compliance with tax, labor, consumer, environmental, and data protection standards

Another legal and regulatory challenge for marketplaces is complying with tax, labor, consumer, environmental, and data protection standards, which can vary by country, state, municipality, and sector. Marketplaces must be aware of the obligations and rights arising from these standards, as well as the sanctions and penalties that may be applied in case of non-compliance.

In Brazil, marketplaces must issue electronic invoices (NF-e) or equivalent fiscal documents on behalf of sellers whenever they intermediate the sale of products or services, under penalty of fines and joint tax liability. Additionally, marketplaces must withhold and remit the Tax on Services of Any Nature (ISSQN) on services provided by sellers, when they are classified as individual microentrepreneurs (MEI) or opt for the Simples Nacional, under penalty of fines and joint tax liability.

On the other hand, in the European Union, marketplaces must comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which establishes strict rules for the processing of users' personal data, with penalties of up to €20 million or 4% of annual global turnover.

3. Prevention and combat of fraud, piracy, counterfeiting, smuggling, and money laundering

A third legal and regulatory challenge for marketplaces is to prevent and combat fraud, piracy, counterfeiting, smuggling, and money laundering that may occur in platform transactions. These illicit practices can generate financial, reputational, and legal losses for marketplaces, as well as for sellers, buyers, and society as a whole.

In Brazil, marketplaces can be held civilly and criminally liable for the sale of illicit products or services if it is proven that they were aware or should have been aware of the origin or nature of the products. Additionally, marketplaces must adopt measures to prevent money laundering, such as user identification and registration, monitoring and recording of operations, reporting of suspicious transactions, and document retention, under penalty of fines and authorization revocation.

In the European continent, marketplaces must comply with the Intellectual Property Rights Directive, which establishes the obligation to cooperate with rights holders to prevent the offering of products or services that violate these rights, under penalty of interim measures and compensation.

4. Management of conflicts, complaints, and user reviews

A fourth legal and regulatory challenge for marketplaces is managing conflicts, complaints, and user reviews that may arise from platform transactions. These aspects can affect user satisfaction, trust, and loyalty, as well as the image and credibility of marketplaces.

For example, in Brazil, marketplaces must comply with the Consumer Protection Code, which establishes consumer rights and guarantees, such as the right to information, withdrawal, exchange, refund, repair, and compensation. Additionally, marketplaces must provide channels for customer service, mediation, and conflict resolution, such as the Customer Service (SAC), ombudsman, chat, email, telephone, platform, consumer protection agencies, and small claims courts.

In Europe, marketplaces must comply with the Online Dispute Resolution Directive, which establishes the obligation to inform consumers about the existence and availability of online dispute resolution mechanisms, such as the ODR platform.


In general, it can be stated that all these challenges are complex and dynamic, depending on the analysis of various aspects of marketplace operations, which can vary from case to case, and also on the evolution of norms and jurisprudence in different countries or regions where marketplaces operate. This can lead to legal uncertainty and conflicts of jurisdiction.

Therefore, it is crucial for marketplaces to be attentive and updated on the legal and regulatory issues surrounding their activities and to seek appropriate and innovative solutions to overcome these challenges and take advantage of the opportunities that the digital market offers.

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