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The European Directive on better enforcement and modernisation of Union consumer protection rules (“The Omnibus Directive”) is transposed into Belgian Law

Publications | Louise Denayer

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On 25 April 2022, the Belgian project of law, transposing Directive 2019/2161 on better enforcement and modernisation of Union consumer protection rules, was approved in the Belgian Chamber. This law brings several changes to Books I, VI, XV of the Belgian Economic Code. The most important changes are summarized below.

Several strict rules are introduced concerning the announcement of a price reduction to consumers. Here, reference will have to be made by the trader to a “reference price” used prior to the application of the price reduction. This price normally corresponds to the lowest price applied by the trader during a period of 30 days prior to the application of the price reduction. When the price reduction is progressively increased, the “reference price” will however entail the price without the price reduction (the price before the first application of the price reduction).

Furthermore, this law expands the scope of the current framework by giving consumers the ability to exercise traditional consumer rights when buying digital goods, services, and content.

When consumers are offered a product or service “for free”, but in exchange of information relating to their personal data, these consumers will benefit of a similar protection as consumers who purchase a product or service against payment of a price.

Important changes are also made regarding the consumer's right of withdrawal, especially as regards service contracts and in cases where the trader provides digital content to the consumer which is not supplied on a tangible medium or a digital service.

Stricter provisions on misleading consumers will also be introduced, especially as regards to the information provided or not provided to a consumer in a digital context.

The assessment and sanctioning of infringements by traders are also more broadly outlined in this law. In order to impose a possible fine on a trader due to infringements or to determine the amount of the fine, new non-exhaustive and indicative criteria are introduced in the Belgian Economic Code. As a result of this new law, the fine imposed on a trader can also be higher than before.

Consequently, the legislative proposal entails numerous changes, which may have an impact on your business. The law will enter into force on 28 Mai 2022. Do you have questions about these changes? Astrea is happy to assist you in this matter.