Reposted from Law A La Mode 

By: Julie De Bruyn 

Belgium has implemented the Consumer Rights Directive by means of the Act of December 21, 2013 introducing Book VI of the Economic Law Code on Marked Practices and Consumer Protection, as published on December 30, 2013. The previous Act of April 6, 2010 on Market Practices and Consumer Protection was formally repealed with the exception of articles 110 to 118; in practice however, the majority of the provisions of the Act were codified in the new Book VI and substantial modifications were made to align these provisions with the Directive. 

Book VI imposes among other things, a more extensive information obligation on the trader towards consumers. The Belgian legislator explicitly chose to allow almost no exceptions to this information obligation, even though the Consumer Rights Directive provided for the possibility to do so.

The Belgian legislator furthermore maintained the prohibition for the clothing, footwear and leather goods sector to announce price discounts in the blackout pre-sales period, but emphasizes that this prohibition does not aim to protect the consumer, but rather the interests of traders. As this is still a highly controversial issue for traders, which is currently the subject of discussion before the courts, it is unfortunate that the legislator did not take the opportunity to create clarity for traders (and consumers) in this respect.

The Consumer Rights Directive furthermore extends and streamlines the right of withdrawal for consumers, from 7 working days to 14 calendar days. In Belgium, a minimum term of 14 calendar days was already in place for distance contracts, however, the previous (7 working days) term in Belgium for off-premises contracts has now been extended to 14 calendar days in accordance with the Consumer Rights Directive. What was already set out in Belgian consumer protection legislation has now also been confirmed by the Consumer Rights Directive, notably that the consumer is not required to provide a motivation for exercising his right of withdrawal.