The European courts have dealt a blow to discount retailer Lidl over allegations that price claims made by Belgian rival Colruyt were misleading, finding that EU rules allow price comparison in advertising.
Lidl had complained to the Belgian courts that Colruyt advertised that its prices were the lowest in Belgium by taking the average prices of a range of comparable products.
The case was referred to the European court in Luxembourg, which stressed that EU rules did not preclude comparative advertising between basic products “which, when viewed in pairs, individually satisfy the requirement of comparability”.
But it also indicated that Colruyt’s advertising could be considered misleading if it claims that its general price level was lower than Lidl’s because it did not make it clear that this related only to a sample range of products, not all products.
Colruyt must also ensure that it can prove that actual price comparisons have been made, even if it is not obliged to mention them all in its adverts, and to allow consumers access to all the relevant data.
However, it is up to the national court in Belgium to decide whether Colruyt has done this – and whether Lidl’s case can continue.