You Are Not Allowed to Speak Badly About Your Competitors

Businesses may want to know certain things about their competitors, such as their USP, price, quality, convenience, location, product range and customer service.

In a previous article you could already read that it is forbidden to advertise in a way that misleads or may mislead the consumer, unless it concerns exaggerated advertising that should not be taken literally. In this article, we look at another spectrum of prohibited advertising, namely denigrating comparative advertising and badgering.

The Court of Appeal of Antwerp recently had to decide whether an e-mail to the press from a company in which it links its competitor to ‘sjoemelsoftware’ (software used to influence test results) should be considered as advertising in accordance with Article I.8,13° of the Economic Code (hereafter: WER). Moreover, the Court also had to examine whether the company was thereby guilty of badgering (Article VI.104 WER) and denigrating comparative advertising (VI. 17, 5° WER).

Article I.8.13° WER

Article I.8.13° WER defines “advertising” as: “Any communication aimed directly or indirectly at promoting the sale of products, regardless of the place or means of communication used”. In other words, the concept of advertising is broadly defined.

The Court of Appeal ruled that the e-mail falls under the definition of advertising, as it has at least the indirect objective of promoting the sale of products. After all, by besmirching the reputation of a competitor, one’s own image is strengthened, which can promote the sale of products. This view is fully in line with the case law of the Court of Cassation in a case where the Court ruled that: “the placing of an identification plate on one tank which – from the nature of the case – can only be installed in one place can constitute advertising.”

Article VI. 104 WER

Article VI.104 WER prohibits any act contrary to fair market practices by which a company harms or is likely to harm the professional interests of one or more other companies.

According to the Court of Appeal, badgering consists of: “making an announcement containing a fact or an allegation, launching an attack or expressing a criticism which, in the mind of third parties, is likely to undermine the credibility or the reputation of an economic operator, of its products, its services or its activity.”

Dyson argued before the first judge that BSH had allegedly manipulated test results. The Court of Appeal confirmed the decision of the first court insofar Dyson wrongly linked BSH’s products to fraud scandals as she was not convicted for these allegations. The Court of Appeal accused Dyson of badgering. After all, it is not for Dyson to insinuate that BSH has infringed a statutory provision. With this decision, the Court of Appeal follows the established case law that such accusations, in the absence of a final conviction, must be qualified as badgering.

Article VI.17 WER

Article VI.17 of the WER stipulates that comparative advertising is permitted on condition that it:

  • “1° is not misleading;
  • 2° compares goods or services that meet the same needs or are intended for the same purpose;
  • 3° objectively compares one or more essential, relevant, verifiable and representative features of those goods and services, which may include price;
  • 4° does not cause the goods or services of the advertiser to be confused with those of a competitor;
  • 5° it does not damage the good name of or denigrate the brands, trade names, other distinguishing marks, goods, services, activities or circumstances of a competitor;
  • 6° for goods with an appellation of origin, relates in any case to goods with the same appellation;
  • 6 Zie arrest Hof van Beroep te Antwerpen 20 januari 2021, NjW 2021, afl. 450, 778.
  • 7 Zie arrest Hof van Beroep te Antwerpen 20 januari 2021, NjW 2021, afl. 450, 778.
  • 8 Voorz. Kh. Antwerpen 1 februari 2011, Jb. Markt. 2011, 527; Voorz. Kh. Antwerpen 4 oktober 2011, Jb.Markt. 2011, 559.
  • 7° does not take unfair advantage of the reputation of a trade mark, trade name or other distinguishing marks of a competitor or of the designation of origin of competing goods;
  • 8° does not present goods or services as imitations or replicas of goods or services with a protected trade mark or protected trade name.”

Any comparative advertising that does not comply with the abovementioned conditions is prohibited. Since Dyson identifies BSH’s products in the e-mail to the press, it can be considered as comparative advertising in accordance with Article I.8,14° WER.

As set out above, the Court of Appeal ruled that Dyson is guilty of badgering pursuant to Article VI.104 WER, thereby damaging the good name of its competitor (BSH) and committing an infringement of Article VI.17,5° WER.

Some examples of derogatory comparative advertising messages and/or badgering:

  • According to a Utrecht judge, the slogan “Now really without antics” of supermarket Steengoed as a variant of the slogan “No antics. That saves” of C1000 was unnecessarily disparaging.9
  • When Ryanair was introduced in Belgium in 2001, the low-cost airline immediately nauseated Sabena with the slogan: “Pissed off with
  • Sabena’s high fares?” above a picture of Manneken Pis, who made Sabena disappear for good with a jet.
  • Not much later, Sabena successor ‘SNBA’ was welcomed by Ryanair with a smiling Mona Lisa saying: “SN says it has the lowest fares in Europe? Don’t make me laugh”.

Conclusion

The concept of advertising has a broad meaning in Belgian law. Any communication that can directly or indirectly promote the sale of products will be considered as advertising. If you mention the products of a competitor, you will fall under ‘comparative advertising’ and, as a company, you must comply with the conditions of Article VI.17 WER.

For example, it is prohibited to damage the good name of a competitor and to belittle the goods and services of a competitor. You should therefore always ensure that when you engage in comparative advertising, you comply with the conditions of Article VI.17 of the WER.

If you still have questions after reading this article, please do not hesitate to contact Joost Peeters.

How Can Legal Professionals Pitch Their Professional Advice Online?

The legal profession is an extremely competitive industry to be in, and as such, law firms require outside of the box thinking for marketing themselves effectively. With a range of online tools now available to virtually anyone, and many of them providing highly profitable results, it has gotten more accessible and more affordable than it used to be. This post will cover some of the most beneficial ways that a law firm in the modern world can pitch its business to potential clients ethically and effectively.

Become Relevant In Your Community

Unless you happen to be a vast, multinational law firm, the chances are that you will have a sphere of operations that you work in. This could be your local city, county, or state. Whatever it is, you should try to become as locally relevant as possible using regional law firm marketing solutions. This might be setting up interviews with local news, taking on local pro bono work, or limiting your advertising to your local area. Whatever you choose, you must be highly relevant to those in your area of operations.

Get Your Branding & Mission Statement On Point

The importance of branding for a law firm is immense as a great brand can help the law firm gain more clients and increase revenue. Branding is all about creating an image that will attract customers and make them want to do business with you. It helps establish trust with the clients and creates a sense of professionalism. However, branding should not be limited to the logo or the website design. It should be present in every aspect of interacting with your clients and how you present yourself to them.

Use Digital Advertising Campaigns

Law firms can target specific audiences and provide them with relevant content using digital advertising campaigns. The result will be improved conversion rates and an increase in engagement with their clients. Firms in the legal field have traditionally been slow to adapt to new technologies, but they are slowly changing. You can get a better return on investment on their marketing investment with digital advertising campaigns than traditional forms such as TV ads or print ads. However, if you don’t know what you are doing, you could end up spending a lot of money with little to show for it. Therefore, you are recommended to use the services of a marketing agency to set up these campaigns on your behalf.

Network At Relevant Events

It might not be modern, but it still works. Law firms who network will be more proactive in their approach and will better understand what their competitors are doing. Additionally, they can gain insight into what the market wants, which will enable them to stand out. Moreover, you can often find partnership opportunities that will help you in the long run. If, for instance, your firm only handles civil personal injury lawsuits and you network with another firm specialising in criminal matters, you could both recommend one another to relevant clients.

Build A LinkedIn Presence

The LinkedIn network consists of professional profiles in fields such as business, education, and government and has millions of users worldwide. By offering your services to those LinkedIn users interested in what you offer, you can find and connect with potential clients and expand your client base. Additionally, you can use it to network digitally as per the previous point and even position yourself as an authority in your area of expertise by regularly creating posts that educate readers about specific legal matters.

Represent Charities Or Do Pro Bono Work For The Publicity

Pro bono work is legal work that is done for free, and it is a type of public service that can benefit law firms in various ways. By using this method, law firms will be able to increase their client base without spending a lot of money on marketing, as they will also be able to attract new clients and remain at the top of the public’s mind. Aside from being an inherently decent thing to do, you will rescue a lot of positive press for free.

Position Your Firm As Expert Using Video Media

The world has gone crazy for video media, and plenty of companies are capitalising on platforms like YouTube and TikTok to significant effect. Law firms can use YouTube as a marketing tool. Videos can be created that are relevant to the niche of the law firm to increase clientele. Furthermore, you can create short and concise videos for TikTok to appeal to a younger audience who might require legal representation.

While modern marketing techniques can seem confusing to businesses stuck in the past, they actually offer a better return on investment and provide new ways to target the exact clients you want to attract.

6 Ways To Obtain Legal Advice For Personal Injury Lawsuits

Whenever personal injury cases arise, there has to be a defendant and complainant to launch malpractice claims. The malpractice can range from professional negligence, carelessness in public and private installation, and recklessness.

You need to form a good defence plan to protect yourself from the financial burden imposed by the justice systems and competently vindicate yourself. The same applies if you’re a victim of such malpractices and want to sue for damages caused.

You can begin by researching ways to shield yourself from compensation claims and learn numerous ways to maintain a clean sheet from such cases. It may entail seeking legal practitioners’ advice or getting recommended reading to understand the available options at hand. That way, you can decide the best approach to complainant claims.

Gavel, stethoscope and caduceus sign on books background. Medicine laws and legal, medical jurisprudence.

Below are six ways to obtain legal advice for personal injury lawsuits.

1. Reviewing Previous Lawsuits

Collect information from previous lawsuits that have been settled in courts. They can guide what compensation to expect from the corridors of justice. Also, you can compare the severity and the cause of your injury.

It’s important to identify who’s responsible for the injury and what legal reprieve is available for you. Furthermore, such cases have time limits for submission and may not be heard for that simple reason.

You can dig deeper into the archives to find out the best channel to use for your injury lawsuits. It gives you an outline of how the matters are settled in court by both parties (defendant and complaint).

2. Insurance Recommendation

Underwriters play a crucial role in personal injury lawsuits, especially when claims are involved. Normally, they investigate compensation claims before proceeding to make payments. It can give insights on what steps to take when filing for personal injury lawsuits.

However, insurance companies aim to protect their interest and overlook or add other malpractices to your injury claims. They’ll want to work within your injury insurance package and leave the rest for your legal team.

3. Family And Friends Consultations

Family and friends are great sources of information and can give ideas on tackling personal injury lawsuits. You could get insights on how to manoeuvre in the corridors of justice regarding your cases.

Furthermore, consultations can help you develop the best strategy to apply when facing lawsuits. Family and friends can recommend lawyers who’ve handled such cases and competently represent you in courts.

4. Legal Practitioners

The simplest way to get information about the personal injury lawsuit is by asking for help from legal practitioners. They can give you the current bylaws concerning personal injury matters and how to defend yourself.

The lawsuit could be forcing you to accept liability for faults that the other party causes. Your lawyer can take the matter and request further investigations before court proceedings are allowed. That way, you’re guaranteed the best personal injury lawsuits representation and possibly a good outcome.

Also, legal practitioners can advise how much your lawsuit is worth and what charges to expect should you lose the case. That may include the legal fees and the lawsuits administration costs.

5. Online Research

The internet is a great way to collect information to guide you through personal injury lawsuits. You need to research the best practices against your claims of malpractice.

Knowing your responsibilities in your lawsuits can help you defend your position. When asked to produce evidence to prove your innocence, it might be the point of difference.

The online research allows you to analyse previous cases and learn how they were resolved. You get to address malpractice claims against the law provisions.

6. Legal Mediation Channels

Mediation is applicable in lawsuits that allow the parties in dispute to settle the matter out of court. They can give you information on avoiding pitfalls connected to the legal proceedings and avert huge financial costs.

Your representative can meet the other parties (complainant or defendant) lawyers and discuss how to resolve the matter. It reduces the hassle of running court battles to secure compensation or claims settlement.

The legal mediation channels can advise on the probable outcome and deliver a satisfying agreement between the two factions in the personal injury claims.

Conclusion

Whether you’re a defendant or a complainant in a personal injury lawsuit, it’s important to have facts about the case. Both parties have a responsibility to prove who’s at fault and may help determine the settlement of the matter. Begin by looking for advice from various sources like reading reviews or testimonials and get recommendations from underwriters or family. It removes the guesswork and saves you time and money in the process. Above are ways to obtain legal advice for personal injury lawsuits.

Most Asked Questions About Professional Negligence Claims: Explained

Professional negligence claims have become increasingly common in today’s complex and interconnected world. These claims arise when a professional fails to meet the expected standard of care, causing harm or financial loss to their clients. If you’re considering pursuing a professional negligence claim or are simply curious about this topic, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will answer the most frequently asked questions about professional negligence claims to provide you with valuable insights and guidance.

Professional negligence claims! You want something done, and you want it done professionally. You naturally search for companies or service providers that claim that they can do the job right. You hire one and lo and behold – they aren’t up to par with their claims and worse, your standards.

What Do You Do When This Happens?

It is utterly disappointing and can be downright frustrating that despite spending a lot of money and time to look for a professional, the end-product doesn’t live up to expectations.

What Can You Do When This Happens?

You can actually file a case against them, with the help of legal counselling. Before you go stomping into court or wave demand letters, learn more about professional negligence claims and how you can protect yourself in the future.

What Are Professional Negligence Claims?

In a nutshell, these are service providers that don’t make do with their promises. They don’t deliver the type of service they said they would, or their product/s didn’t perform the way they say they would.

Small or big, it doesn’t matter how large of a company or contract you entered into. As long as there is an established professional relationship between the seller and buyer, you can file a professional negligence claim if deemed necessary. Professional negligence claims are confined to certain industries. You can confidently file a lawsuit against a service provider or supplier.

If their failure has caused you financial distress and damages, you are in the right position to file a lawsuit. Some companies forget why they were hired in the first place – clients search for professional-grade products or services and they’re willing to spend for it.

What Are The Elements of a Strong Negligence Claim?

Human error is common and expected in every industry. No matter how good of a professional one claims to be, they’re bound to commit mistakes one way or another. Can one mistake be a cause to file a lawsuit against them?

Not every error needs to be settled in court. Please consider the following elements that make up a strong negligence claim:

  • “Duty of care” is the professional’s responsibility and obligation
  • They acted negligently
  • You have suffered financial loss, damage to property and self or worse, resulted in death.

You must have all three elements to be able to file a strong professional negligence claim against them. What should you expect when you win the case?

You should be properly compensated for the financial losses and damages to property. They should be able to pay for any future expenses that might be incurred due to their negligence, such as physical therapy and such. Aside from these, they should also shoulder legal and court fees that you paid for when filed this professional negligence claim.

How Do I File a Professional Negligence Claim?

You should first talk to professional negligence lawyers in Brisbane. They are well-versed in the laws that surround such cases and they’d be able to assist you in fighting for your rights as a consumer.

The professional you intend to go up against is most likely aware of the laws that encompass his or her profession or industry. They’d most likely have connections too. This is why talking to one of the best lawyers in town will be your best hope in winning this case.

When you get a chance to talk to a lawyer, they’ll discuss with you every step of the way that needs to be faced to be able to win this case. While filing a professional negligence case is certainly time consuming and will probably put a dent in your wallet, you are fighting for your rights as a consumer and should be able to put up a good fight especially when you evidence is strong.

Conclusion

Professional negligence claims are a complex but important aspect of the legal system, offering recourse for individuals who have suffered harm due to professional misconduct. Understanding the basics of professional negligence claims, including who can be held liable, what must be proven, and the types of compensation available, is crucial if you find yourself in such a situation. If you believe you have a valid claim, consult with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process and help you seek the justice and compensation you deserve.

New Legal Regime on Stamp Duty Charges

Stamp duty is a tax that is levied on single property purchases or documents (including, historically, the majority of legal documents such as cheques, receipts, military commissions, marriage licences and land transactions).

The Finance Act, 2019 amended some provisions of the Companies Income Tax Act, Petroleum Profit Tax Act, Personal Income Tax Act, Value Added Tax Act, Customs and Excise Tariff etc., Capital Gains Tax Act and Stamp Duty Act.

Sections 52 to 56 of the Finance Act, 2019 amended Sections 2, 4, 89 and the Schedule of the Stamp Duty Act, 2004. Section 55 of the Finance Act, 2019 deleted Section 90 of the Stamp Duty Act, 2004.

We shall discuss new trends in stamp duty charges under the Finance Act, 2019.

Modern innovations on stamp duty under the Finance Act, 2019

Section 52 of the Finance Act, 2019 amended Section 2 of the Stamp Duty Act, 2004 to extend the meaning of “stamp” to include “an electronic stamp or electronic acknowledgment” for denoting any duty or fee. Again, the provision extended the meaning of “stamped” to include “instruments and materially tagged with electronic stamp or national stamp on an electronic receipt”. The meaning of “instruments” is extended to “electronic documents”.

Similarly, Section 54 of the Finance Act, 2019 amended Section 89 of the Stamp Duty Act, 2004 to include “electronic inscription whereby any money” is paid within the meaning of “receipt” for the purpose of stamp duty payment. Section 89 is introduced to provide for “digital tag with electronic stamp or any acknowledgement of duty charged on an electronic transaction”.

Section 89 is also introduced to provide that “electronic receipt or electronic transfer for money deposited in any bank” of N10, 000 naira and above paid by the owner of the account shall be charged a one-off duty of N 50 naira.

Who is the competent charging authority?

Under Section 53 of the Finance Act, 2019 which amended Section 4 of the Stamp Duty Act, 2004, the Federal Inland Revenue Service is the competent authority to charge duties on instruments between a company and an individual, group or body of individuals.

The relevant tax authority in a State is the competent authority to charge duties on instruments between persons or individuals within the respective States of the Federation.

The FIRS is empowered to collect stamp duties on all banking transactions though its agents; Banks and other Financial Institutions.

How much is the duty on electronic receipt or electronic transfer?

By the provisions of Section 54 of the Finance Act, 2019, a one-off duty of N 50.00 shall accrue for amounts from N 10, 000 and above. Nevertheless, duty shall not accrue where a person pays or transfers money electronically between his accounts within the same Bank.

What are chargeable transactions?

Instruments such as agreements, contracts, receipts, memorandum of understanding, promissory notes, insurances policies and other transactions listed in the Schedule to the Stamp Duty Act, 2004 are subject to stamp duty.

Exempted transactions under the Finance Act, 2019

a) of the Finance Act, 2019 amended the Schedule of the Stamp Duty Act, 2004 to include exempt receipts as “receipts given by any person in a Regulated Securities Lending Transaction carried out under regulation issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission”.

b) of the Finance Act, 2019 amended the Schedule of the Stamp Duty Act, 2004 and provided that shares, stocks or securities returned or transferred by a lender to its approved agent or a borrower in furtherance of a Regulated Securities Lending Transaction as well as documents relating to regulated securities lending transactions carried out under regulations by the Securities and Exchange Commission are exempted from stamp duty.

The Rights And Duties Of Heirs In A Wrongful Death Claim

Wrongful death is a claim against a person who can be held liable for a death. Nothing is more devastating than a death of a loved one. It’s hard to cope with the death of someone close to you, especially in the event of untimely death due to someone else’s negligence.

Besides dealing with grief, the immediate family must also provide a decent send-off for their kin. The hospital and burial costs, together with coming to terms with the untimely death, can be too much for the immediate family to handle.

Wooden judge gavel and law books.

Wooden judge gavel and law books

Understanding Wrongful Death

Wrongful death occurs when a person’s death is due to the misconduct or negligence of another person or entity. Wrongful death can be caused by many things, including motor vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, manufacturing defects, or even criminal activity.

In such an event, wrongful death suits may be the best legal process that ensures that the immediate family receives justice, including financial support to cover the expenses incurred due to the untimely death of a family member.

After receiving the news of the death of a loved one, it’s common for people close to the deceased to be grief-stricken and confused. Most people don’t know what to do next. At this point, understanding wrongful death claims can help guide your next course of action. This article discusses the rights and duties of heirs in a wrongful death claim.

1. Pursuing Legal Action

The death of a loved one can be overwhelming, but as heirs, it may be necessary to pursue legal action. If you decide to pursue legal action, your next step should be consulting a wrongful death attorney to understand the process. In New York, however, only the representative of the decedent (the person who died) can file a wrongful death lawsuit.

The lawyer can determine liability for the death of your loved one, gather evidence, build a case, and represent you in negotiating for any compensation you deserve. The lawyer can also get permission from the decedent’s representative, which can also be a family member of the deceased, to start legal proceedings.

While financial compensation can’t bring back your loved one, it may be the only option to ensure your financial security, especially if the deceased was the family breadwinner.

2. Bringing The Family Together

Once you’ve received news of your loved one’s demise, ensure that you have your family or friends to support you. Surround yourself with people who care about you. In the event of untimely death, most people tend to get depressed and can easily isolate.

Falling apart can only worsen the matter since you have to deal with the untimely demise of your loved one. Attend to members of your family with severe emotional challenges. To avoid any psychological or emotional damage following the death of your loved one, stick together as a family. It will ensure that you help each other cope.

3. Cooperating With Your Lawyer To Gather Evidence

While tasks like gathering evidence in times of grief can be tough, it’s also important to increase your chances of obtaining justice for the deceased. This can happen by cooperating with your lawyer in obtaining more evidence. Remember that the defendant will also protect themselves before the court, and a weak case might reduce the chances of getting suitable compensation.

4. Planning The Funeral

The heirs to the deceased have both the right and duty to arrange and plan a funeral for their loved one. They can decide when and how they will send off their kin. Whether by cremation or burial, heirs to the deceased have the right to decide what happens to the body of their family member.

5. Receive The Inheritance

Legally, heirs are the next of kin who will automatically inherit the estate of the deceased. In most cases, heirs are the deceased’s immediate family, for example, children or spouse. When a loved one dies due to wrongful death, the heirs are entitled to the lawsuit proceeds. However, heirs need to understand their rights to the estate of their loved one to ensure their interests are protected.

Conclusion

Heirs have the right to inherit the loved one’s estate in the event of wrongful death. They are also entitled to seek justice for the deceased. However, seeking justice while grieving can be overwhelming. It’s advisable to seek legal advice from a wrongful death attorney to know the way forward. If you aren’t aware of your rights and duties as heirs, the attorney will help you understand them to protect your rights and interests as heirs.