Under Belgian consumer protection law, it is prohibited for traders active in the sectors of clothing, leather goods, fine leather craft and footwear to announce during so-called "pre-sales periods" (i.e. the periods of 15 November to 2 January inclusive and from 15 May to 30 June inclusive) to make announcements of price reductions or announcements which suggest a price reduction.
The plaintiff had sent an invitation to some of its customers regarding a private sale in its shops from 18 to 20 December 2009 inclusive. In that invitation it was stated that, during those three days, the chosen customers could benefit from greatly reduced prices on showing their loyalty card. According to the defendants, this was a practice contrary to the aforementioned prohibition on announcements of price reductions during the pre-sales periods.
In first instance, the judge has granted this request of the defendants and had ordered plaintiff to stop said announcements in its points of sale. Plaintiff appealed against this decision and the judge to which the case was referred to, suspended its ruling as it was of the opinion that an assessment by the European Courts should be made as to whether this prohibition under Belgian law is in line with European legislation, and more in particular the Directive 2005/29.