Market practices and consumer protection

Last modified:

Thursday 31 October 2019

The law of 6 April 2010 concerning market practices and consumer protection (LPMC) (FR) establishes a general ban on disloyal commercial practices. It governs, among others:

  • advertising and practices contrary to honest market practices between companies;
  • comparative advertising;
  • disloyal commercial practices towards consumers who understand the advertising

Advertising is defined very broadly. It is any communication having the indirect or direct aim of promoting the sale of products, regardless of the location or the communication methods used.

Banned advertising

Some advertising specified by the law is banned between companies;

  • misleading advertising;
  • derogatory advertising;
  • deceitful advertising;

The law also bans any advertising from a company which:

  • includes an invoice or a similar document demanding payment which gives the impression that the item or service has already been ordered when this is not the case;
  • conceals or provides substantial unclear information regarding the consequences resulting from the response given by the recipient or which conceals, does not provide clearly, or does not indicate its true intention.

Common provisions apply to companies and to advertising and commercial practices concerning consumers, notably:

  • when the advertising presents a price or a price reduction 
  • when the advertising concerns a prepacked item 
  • when the stock is not sufficient enough to provide the items advertised
  • regarding proof of the accuracy of the factual data in an ad

Comparative advertising

Comparative advertising is defined as any form of advertising which, explicitly or implicitly, identifies a competitor or the goods or services offered by a competitor. It is only lawful under certain conditions. This advertising:

  • cannot be misleading or lead to an error
  • cannot compare good or services that meet identical needs or have the same objective;
  • must present the essential, relevant, verifiable, and representative characteristics of these goods or services objectively, the price of which may be included;
  • must avoid creating confusion among professionals, must not discredit, imitate, or benefit from competitive brands or trade names.
  • must not reproduce or imitate a brand, or interfere with the competitor
  • must refer to products having the same designation of origin;

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