Guarantees and returns – Belgium
How long is the legal guarantee for new and second-hand goods?
The duration is 2 years but can be reduced to 1 year for second-hand goods.
If the product is defective, who is responsible for putting things right?
The seller, even for purchases made through an internet platform. However, the platform may have agreed to act as an intermediary so check the terms and conditions.
By when must the consumer notify the seller of a defect?
If the contract doesn't mention a notification period, the consumer has no obligation to notify the seller within a specific period. The seller can provide a notification period in the contract but this should be no less than 2 months. However we advise consumers to react as soon as possible after finding the defect.
Who has to prove the presence/absence of a defect and how long do they have to do this?
The seller must prove that the item was not defective for the first 6 months after the delivery of the product ("reversal of burden of proof"). After this time the consumer must prove that it was defective.
Is there a third party testing body that can help to provide proof?
The consumer can ask a repair shop for an expert opinion, but it might not be accepted by the seller. In the event of a court procedure, the judge may accept the opinion of the consumer's expert or ask for an independent expert opinion.
What remedies is the consumer entitled to free of charge? Is there a deadline for implementing the solution?
There is a "hierarchy of remedies":
- Firstly, repair or replacement according to the consumer's wishes, within a reasonable time and free of charge
- Secondly, refund or reduction of the purchase price if repair or replacement are not possible within a reasonable timeframe
The definition of a "reasonable timeframe" may vary between cases. Therefore, when writing to the trader to ask for the legal guarantee to be applied, the consumer should agree on a deadline for remedy and inform the trader that if this deadline is not met, the consumer will cancel the contract or ask for a reduction in the purchase price.
Is the repaired/replaced product covered by a new guarantee?
No, the legal guarantee is extended by the amount of time necessary for the repair or replacement of the product.
Can the consumer take action against the importer or any intermediary in the supply chain up to and including the producer?
Yes, but only if the importer or producer offer their own commercial warranty.
If no amicable solution can be found, what is the deadline for taking the case to court?
Anytime within the legal guarantee period of 2 years or 1 year from the date on which the consumer becomes aware of the defect.
Are any other legal guarantees laid down in national law coexisting with the legal conformity guarantee?
There is a guarantee against hidden defects, but the consumer must be able to prove the defects exist.
Who is responsible for application of the warranty?
The party offering the warranty, be it the seller, the producer or a third party guarantor. Always refer to the documentation provided.
On average, how long is a commercial warranty?
1 to 5 years, but in most cases 2 years as with the legal guarantee. More expensive goods usually have a longer warranty which often applies to specific parts of the product.
Is it free of charge?
Not necessarily. The trader can fix the conditions, so it can be free of charge or offered against payment.
Does it have to be confirmed in writing?
The seller has to provide the commercial warranty in a written document or in a durable and accessible format.
What information is required?
The content of the warranty, including all essential elements such as duration, price and geographical coverage, details of the company offering it and a reminder of the legal guarantee.