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Case detail



Directive article Article 6 1.
National ID Court of Appeal Antwerp, 23 December 2010
Country Belgium Decision date 23/12/2011
Common name Decision type Court decision in appeal
Court Hof van Beroep Antwerpen Plaintiff(s) Vereniging Vlaamse Reisbureaus VZW
Court translation Court of Appeal Antwerp Defendant(s) Travel Tex NV
Subject intermediary
Keywords intermediarymisleading advertisingmisleading statements

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Headnote

An advertisement in which it is stated that the products offered by the trader are cheaper because no use is made of an intermediary, infringes the rules on misleading commercial practices in the event the trader does not offer insight in its cost structure to substantiate this claim. 

Facts

The defendant, a travel agency, had placed advertisements on its website in which it was primarily emphasized that the prices of the defendant were much cheaper because the defendant did not use intermediaries due to the fact that the voyages could be ordered online. In its advertisements it included statements such as "without any extra intermediary costs", "book cheaper without intermediary!".

The plaintiff, an association of travel agencies filed a complaint by stating that the advertisement was misleading towards consumers as the defendant did not offer any insight in its price calculations and pricing structure.

In first instance, the plaintiff had brought the defendant before court on the basis of these facts claiming that the advertisements constituted an unlawful commercial practice. However, in first instance, the court ruled that the advertisements in question were not misleading nor defamatory, but imposed on the defendant to mention its license number in its advertisements as this is material information for consumers (the decision in first instance was not published). The plaintiff filed an appeal against this decision.
 

Legal issue

Does an advertisement in which it is stated that the products offered by the trader are cheaper because no use is made of an intermediary, infringe the rules on misleading commercial practices, in the event the trader does not offer insight in its cost structure to substantiate this claim?

Decision

The court followed the argumentation of the plaintiff and stated that by using the slogans as the defendant did, this undoubtedly creates the impression for an average consumer that online booking methods are cheaper than bookings through intermediaries. In such case, the court held, the defendant must also prove or give sufficient information to establish such proof, that this claim can indeed be substantiated.
As a result, not providing such information, which was the case with the defendant, constitutes a misleading commercial practice.
 

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Result

The court ruled against the defendant.

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