• In the case of Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats ASBL and Others v Conseil des ministres [2009] Case C-236/09, The case concerned consumers’ right to have their interests protected through the prohibition of unfair commercial practises in the internal market. The main legal doctrine was based on the application of Article 169 of the EC Treaty, which enforces the founding of prevalent policies in the field of consumer protection.
  • The case highlighted concerns regarding the application of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive and the Consumer Sales Directive.

Facts of the Case

  • The Council of Ministers was sued in Belgian courts by the Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats ASBL, a group devoted to the defence of consumer rights.
  • Belgian courts asked the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for clarification on how the Consumer Sales Directive and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive should be interpreted in order to bring the action on behalf of Belgian consumers who were harmed by certain businesses’ deceptive commercial practises in the market for electronic games.

Issues in Association belge des Consommateurs Test-Achats ASBL and Others v Conseil des ministres [2009] Case C-236/09

  • The key concern in this case was how the Consumer Sales Directive and the Unfair Commercial Activities Directive should be interpreted and applied to the in question commercial practises. 
  • The court was asked to decide if the regulations of the Consumer Sales Directive and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive implemented to the sale of digital games and if the provisions of the Consumer Sales Directive could be relied upon to forbid the aforementioned deceptive commercial practises.

Held by the European Court of Justice

  • The European Court of Justice ruled that the rules of the Consumer Sales Directive and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive applied to the selling of electronic games and may be used to prohibit the in question deceptive commercial practises.

Judgment

  • The European Court of Justice ruled that all contracts between a supplier and a customer, regardless of the kind of products or services offered, were subject to the terms of the Consumer Sales Directive.
  • The court determined that the provisions of the Consumer Sales Directive were meant to safeguard consumers from deceptive commercial practises, which could include providing false or misleading information about a product’s or service’s primary characteristics, such as their quality, performance, or intended use, in addition to information about those products’ or services’ essential features.
  • The court also ruled that regardless of whether the commercial activities occurred in a physical or virtual setting, the Consumer Sales Directive’s rules apply to any commercial activity carried out in connection with the sale of goods or services.
  • In this instance, the court determined that the requirements of the Consumer Sales Directive barred the in issue deceptive commercial activities, which entailed the use of false or misleading information on the fundamental properties of electronic games.

Editor’s Notes

  • The Belgian Consumers Association Test-Achats ASBL and Others v. the Council of Ministers (2009); The Case C-236/09 case is notable because it defined the extent of these directives’ protection of consumers from deceptive business practises and established the application of the Consumer Sales Directive and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive to the selling of electronic games.