Abuse of economic dependence and unfair terms between companies (B2B)

On 21 March 2019 the Belgian Parliament adopted a Bill that added two concepts to the Belgian Code of Economic Law.

On the one hand, the law adds a category of restrictive practices, in addition to agreements restricting competition and abuse of dominant position. From now on, companies will also be prohibited from abusing the economic dependence of another company if competition is likely to be affected on the Belgian market concerned or a substantial part of it.

The provisions relating to the abuse of economic dependence will enter into force on the 13th month following the publication of the law in the Belgian Official Gazette, probably on 1 May 2020.

On the other hand, this law also introduces the concept of unfair terms between companies. Until now, only B2C relations have been concerned by the prohibition of clauses that created a clear imbalance between the rights and obligations of the parties to the detriment of the consumer. This general prohibition is accompanied by two lists of specific categories of clauses. The terms on the black list are unfair and prohibited in all circumstances. Unlike B2C contracts, the new law also contains a grey list. Unless proven otherwise, the terms on this grey list are presumed to be unfair and prohibited.

The provisions on unfair terms are expected to enter into force on 1 November 2020.

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