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Case Details

Case Details
National ID A502-1384/2010
Member State Lithuania
Common Name link
Decision type Supreme court decision
Decision date 18/11/2010
Court Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania (Vilnius)
Subject
Plaintiff UAB „Tikroji turto kaina"
Defendant Competition Council of the Republic of Lithuania
Keywords black list

Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, Annex I, 4.

Advertising the offering of services for which a license is mandatory, and where the trader does not hold such a license, constitutes an unfair commercial practice.
Through flyers and regional newspapers the plaintiff publicised advertisements promoting legal services stating “The services of the best divorce attorneys”, “The best divorce lawyers” “Especially qualified and cheap attorney services”, “The world champions of the divorce – divorce in 3 days” and “Prompt adjudgement of maintenance from debtor”, although it only hired attorneys to provide legal services including representation in courts.

The defendant concluded that the statements regarding attorneys and representation services constituted misleading advertising and unfair commercial practices because the plaintiff as a company had no right to provide the services offered by attorneys and could not legally represent clients before the courts. The defendant imposed a fine of LTL 11,500 (EUR 3,295) on the plaintiff.

The plaintiff appealed against the defendant’s decision before Vilnius Regional Administrative Court. The court rejected the appeal and the Plaintiff further appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania.

 
First, the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania stated that the plaintiff was advertising attorney services by expressly using the word "attorney", as well as by referencing to a representation of clients before courts. The court noted that attorney services can only be provided by natural persons holding attorney licenses. Although attorneys can establish a legal person, i.e. a professional partnership of attorneys, the plaintiff was not such a company.

Consequently, the court concluded that the plaintiff advertised licensed attorney services although it did not have the necessary attorney license. It was held that such plaintiff’s advertising violates the provision of the unfair commercial practices black list prohibiting false claiming that a trader has been granted a license. As the misleading advertising regulation provides that advertising shall be in all circumstances considered misleading if it falls within the blacklist of the unfair commercial practices, the advertising was held misleading.

 
Does the advertising of offering services for which a license is mandatory, and where the trader does not hold such license, constitute an unfair commercial practice?
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The Plaintiff’s appeal was dismissed. The decisions of the defendant and Vilnius Regional Administrative Court remained unchanged.