New rules for the sale of motor vehicles to consumers

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The obligations that professional car sellers had to meet up to now when selling new motor vehicles to consumers have been revised and extended to the sale of used cars.

Since 2000, professional car sellers are required to include a certain amount of essential information on the front and general terms and conditions on the back of the order form they use when selling new motor vehicles to a consumer.

This regulation will be amended as of 1 November 2019 and will also be extended to the sale of second-hand motor vehicles.

What will professional car sellers have to consider when selling a new or a used car?

1. The sales agreement must contain mandatory information

In some cases, mandatory data has been developed or defined more precisely, such as:

  • the total price to be paid by the consumer, including VAT and all other taxes and the cost of all services to be paid;
  • the duration of the legal guarantee;
  • with regard to the commercial guarantee that comes on top of the legal guaranty: the scope, duration and conditions and the identity of the person offering the commercial guarantee and the person(s) to whom the buyer may apply when he wishes to call on this guarantee.

Even more …

  • the terms and conditions of sale must provide that the sales price can not be revised. 
    It will therefore no longer be possible, as before, to adjust the sales price if the date or the agreed delivery date exceeds 4 months, even if the manufacturer or importer adjusts the price in the meantime.
  • The terms and conditions of sale must provide that the consumer to whom the delivery has not taken place on the agreed delivery date has the right to: 
    (a) terminate the agreement without delay when the delivery date is essential for the consumer and is also included in the sales contract; 
    (b) in other cases, propose a new delivery period appropriate to the circumstances and, when the vehicle is not delivered at the end of this new period, to terminate the agreement without  delay. 
    In the latter case, the advance must be refunded. The sales conditions must therefore provide for the precise period in which this deposit must be repaid.
  • A set of conditions is also provided for the acquisition of a used car when selling a car.

2. A checklist with the description of the used car

When a used car is sold by a professional car seller, a checklist must be added to the sales agreement with a detailed description of the car sold. This checklist must be an integral part of the sales contract.

The Royal Decree provides in its annex a model form.

This form contains lists spare parts and equipment of which must be stated whether they are in good condition or if they show signs of wear and whether existing defects must be repaired before delivery.

This list is not only good for the buyer but also for the seller who has every interest in having the most accurate description of the vehicle sold at the time of sale. In this way, buyers will no longer be able to rely on their warranty for defects they knew at the time of sale.

3. The right of withdrawal does not always apply

The buyer has the right to decline to purchase up to 14 days after the delivery of the vehicle if he has purchased a vehicle remotely (online) or outside the usual areas of sale of the seller (at a motor show or at a trade show, for example). This right of withdrawal must be stated in the sales agreement.

However, the buyer does not have a right of withdrawal if it concerns a new car that is custom made according to specifications specified by such buyer. This too must be explicitly stated in the sales contract.

4. Conclusion

These new obligations will come into effect on 1 November 2019. The old regulation of 2000 will be abolished.

The Royal Decree explicitly states that all contractual clauses are prohibited and void if they are contrary to the new provisions or if they directly or indirectly limit or remove the rights of the consumer.

New car dealers, who often use pre-printed order forms from their importer or manufacturer, also have an interest in verifying that their documents comply with the new requirements.

It is therefore essential that all professional car sellers have their sales agreements and order forms (and the terms and conditions of sale included therein) used for the sale of new and used motor vehicles checked and adapted to the new requirements by 1 November.

With regard to the sale of used cars to consumers, the obligatory checklist to be added will undoubtedly bring benefits to both the seller and the buyer.

Buyers will be better informed of the guarantee (legal and commercial) that they can invoke in the event of a hidden defect and also who they should contact to claim for it.

Sellers will be better protected with the checklist because the sales agreement now clearly indicates which defects the buyer is aware of at the sale and which must be repaired.

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Leo Peeters

Leo Peeters

Partner
Koen De Puydt

Koen De Puydt

Partner
Alain De Jonge

Alain De Jonge

Partner
Toon Rummens

Toon Rummens

Partner
Ulrike Beuselinck

Ulrike Beuselinck

Partner
Leila Mstoian

Leila Mstoian

Partner
Maxiem Devos

Maxiem Devos

Senior Counsel
Tracy Enta

Tracy Enta

Associate
Toon Delie

Toon Delie

Senior Associate