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Belgium

Litigation

Belgium’s Law of 25 February 1991 concerning Liability for Defective Products protects the consumer against damage caused to health and property by defective products. Belgian case law has applied and interpreted this law in accordance with European directive 85/374/EEC of 25 July 1985 and European case law.

In addition, a consumer may invoke the Belgian Civil Code against the manufacturer or the distributor of a defective product. According to the Civil Code, the seller is liable to the consumer for a product’s hidden defects but is not liable for apparent defects. A victim of a defective product can also bring an action based on tort: any act which causes damage to another obliges the blameworthy party to make reparation.

Regulation

The Law of 9 February 1994 on Products and Services Safety aims to guarantee the general safety of products and services placed on the market. This law applies if a particular product or service is not covered by any specific legislation. When manufacturers or distributors discover that a product or a service is dangerous, they must notify the Guichet Central pour les produits. This notification does not automatically trigger prosecution of the manufacturer or the distributor simply because they placed the product or service on the market. However, once a manufacturer or distributor has discovered that a product or service is dangerous, failure to notify the Guichet Central of the danger is punishable by a fine of up to € 10,000.

Finally, there are criminal sanctions, pursuant to the Belgian Criminal Code, that punish (i) the seller for misleading a buyer about the identification, nature or origin of the goods sold; (ii) the seller who fraudulently misleads a buyer about the characteristics of the goods sold; and (iii) persons who have falsified or modified foods or who have sold or exported goods which they knew were adulterated. Moreover, general provisions can be invoked in cases of involuntary homicide or infliction of involuntary bodily injury.

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Note past results are not guarantees of future results. Each matter is individual and will be decided on its own facts.