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Case detail



Directive article Annex I al1 1.
National ID C.09.0436.N
Country Belgium Decision date 21/02/2011
Common name Decision type Supreme court decision
Court Hof van Cassatie Plaintiff(s) Inno N.V.
Court translation Supreme Court Defendant(s) UNIZO vzw et al.
Subject black list
Keywords Scope of the UCP Directive – Full harmonisationcourtfull harmonisationgeneral discussion on new case law

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Headnote

Directive 2005/29 is applicable to a national provision that, amongst others, envisages to protect consumer interests, while in reality it can be established that the national provision does not effectively contribute to consumer protection.

Facts

Plaintiff is a fashion retailer, selling men's and women's wear. Plaintiff issued a fidelity card, which allowed its customers to enjoy specific or permanent promotions. In December 2007, the plaintiff sent customers who had bought at least two items during the last year, a letter in which it was stated that on each purchase during the period 26 December through 31 December 2007 the customer would be granted a discount.

In accordance with Belgian law on the restricted periods ("sperperiodes"), it is unlawful to announce price discounts during certain period of the year.

The courts in the previous instances had ruled against the plaintiff, stating that the plaintiff breached the Belgian legislation on restricted periods.

Legal issue

Is Directive 2005/29 applicable to a national provision that, amongst others, envisages to protect consumer interests, while in reality it can be established that the national provision does not effectively contribute to consumer protection?

Decision

In a short motivation, the Belgian Supreme Court notices that the parliamentary works to the legal provisions on restricted periods, refer both to (a) the legislator's will to protect consumer interests (by ensuring transparency and accuracy) of prices, and (b) the legislator's concern to protect equality in sales chances and to allow small traders to survive (by maintaining healthy competition conditions).

However, the court notes, one must come to the conclusion that the provisions of the restricted periods only effectively regulate the relations between traders, whilst it does not effectively contribute to the protection of the consumer although this was intended so.

Therefore the court questions whether such a legal provision would fall under the scope of the UCP Directive.

It referred this question for a preliminary ruling to the European Court of Justice: "Must Directive 2005/29 be interpreted as such that it opposes to national provisions that prohibit to announce price reductions during specific periods, notwithstanding the fact that, although the legislator intended to pursue two objectives (on the one hand, the protection of consumer interests, and on the other hand regulate trader competition),  in reality the legal provisions regulate only trader competition whilst not effectively contributing to consumer protection.".
 

  URL Decision Decision full text
EN N/A
NL http://www.cassonline.be/easycms/rechtspraak_juridat

Result

In case C-126/11, the European Court of Justice has ruled that Directive 2005/29 is applicable to a national provision that, amongst others, envisages to protect consumer interests.

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