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The Directive 1999/44/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 May 1999 on certain aspects of the sale of consumer goods and associated guarantees prescribes that all consumer goods are guaranteed for a period of two years as from its delivery. This applies to both new and second-hand goods. For the latter, the Member States may allow that the supplier limits its guarantee in time but to not less than one year.
This Directive had to be transposed in national legislations of all EU Member States by 1 January 2002.
On 23 July 2003, Belgium was condemned by the European Court of Justice for failing to transpose the Directive. It is still not done. What are the consequences for the manufacturers supplying consumer goods in Belgium and in the other EU member States and for the Belgian consumers?
Suppliers of consumer goods must obey the law applicable where they sell products. Therefore, manufacturers must offer a two years guarantee for the consumer goods they supply in EU but outside of Belgium. In Belgium, they may still limit their guarantee to one year for new products and to nothing for second-hand goods.
Today, it remains difficult for the Belgian consumer to benefit from the Directive. Of course, if he buys a good abroad in EU, the two years guarantee will apply but with the burden to refer to foreign law and supplier services. If he buys the good in Belgium and if he is refused a guarantee of two years, he can act in court against Belgium that is liable for not complying with its obligations within the EU treaties. He will most probably win his case but when? and after which efforts?
Read the full text of the Directive in: English, français, nederlands Read the full text of the judgement in: English, français, nederlands CEBECAv. F. Van Kalkenlaan
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