The implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive in Belgium was part of the broader reform of the Belgian economic legislation. In 2013 a new Code on economic law was introduced that codified a major part of the scattered economic legislation. The main provisions implementing the Consumer Rights Directive can be found in Book VI ‘Market practices and consumer protection’ that replaces the former Act of 6 April 2010 on market practices and consumer protection (hereinafter ‘Market Practices Act’). In addition, Book XIV was adopted, entitled ‘Market practices and consumer protection concerning liberal professions’.
Both Book VI and Book XIV entered into force on 31 May 2014. The definitions that determine the scope of application of these Books can be found in Book I of the Code of Economic Law, the sanctions in Book XV. Book XVII of the Code of Economic Law regulates the action for injunction and the new collective action for damages.
Most provisions of the Directive were copied quasi literally. No changes were made to the Belgian Civil Code, notwithstanding the fact that the Consumer Sales Directive was implemented into the Civil Code and that the provisions on consumer sales are thus part of the Civil Code.
This contribution aims to set the broader scene of the consumer protection landscape in Belgium (sections 2–4) and gives an overview of the main choices that were made when the Consumer Rights Directive was implemented in Belgian law (sections 5–10). It also briefly discusses the possible influence of CESL on Belgian law (section 11).
CONSUMER (CONTRACT) LAW AND CONSUMER SALES LAW IN BELGIUM
Unlike Italy, but also, inter alia, France and Luxemburg, Belgium does not have a consumer law code. However, the 2010 Market Practices and Consumer Protection Act was generally considered to be the general consumer protection Act as it gathered the most important consumer law provisions together. The Market Practices Act was complemented by several specific consumer protection Acts (inter alia, on consumer credit, timesharing, travel contracts, debt collection, product liability etc.).
The 2010 Market Practices Act replaced the 1991 Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act, which had replaced the 1971 Trade Practices Act. The general consumer protection Act thus finds its origin in trade practices legislation.