Cosmetics giant Vichy advertises an anti-wrinkle cream with a long-lasting lifting effect. According to the maker of a television programme, this claim is misleading. The Eindhovens Dagblad and Volkskrant newspapers have reported that the Dutch Advertising Code Committee (RCC) also considers the advertising misleading.
Vichy submitted an appeal: it has scientific evidence to prove the success of the anti-wrinkle cream. But that proof has to remain secret. Perhaps the competition are using this complaint procedure to discover the secret formula?!
It is a basic principle that advertising is permitted to exaggerate and this happens on a daily basis. On the other hand, Brussels and The Hague are generating increasing amounts of consumer protection legislation. The Netherlands Consumer Authority (CA), has responsibility for supervising compliance with consumer rights. If a significant number of complaints are received by the RCC, the CA can take action and substantial fines can result.
On the other hand, if a complaint is unfounded the RCC often tends to find grounds to issue a warning anyway. So why would a company bother to defend itself? Well, anti-wrinkle cream that doesn’t work is likely to be harder to sell. We now have a forest of overlapping bureaucratic rules that can be used to catch companies out. The volume of rules could easily be halved, but consumers are better protected and it gives journalists lots of material for satisfyingly sensational television programmes. And, who knows, this journalist might just be right: the outcome of the appeal is not yet known.
In the mean time, I’ll just keep using Nivea when the winter weather dries out my hands and giving businesses advice on all those rules.
Some success stories of
Mr. Martijn de Schepper
A turbulent takeover
A businessman for whom I had worked previously came to me because he wanted to help a friend who was having difficulties with his business partner. He tried to intervene when the partner attempted to eject his friend out of his own company. He even offered to buy the company. The other
Fingers burned in the ashes of a house
A man telephoned me in a panic because his house had just burned down and an insurance expert was on his doorstep asking him all kinds of strange questions. The expert then produced a report suggesting on various grounds, both comprehensible and incomprehensible, that the man had set fire
An efficient share sale
An American group with a number of Dutch subsidiaries wished to sell shares back to a fellow shareholder. As the approval of the American parent company was required, I drafted the share purchase agreement in English, to save time and aid efficient communication. The buyer wished to pay
Post-insolvency restart organised in advance
A client with two companies in two different cities realised that one of the two locations was not doing well; the economic situation had caused a drop in sales. His business operated in a sub-sector of the construction industry. He had found a buyer for some of his activities and was keen
Even a generous payment arrangement can’t be open-ended
A German client was faced with a customer who failed to pay. First the customer avoided my client, then he invented excuses and finally he admitted that he owed money but said that he was unable to settle the debt in a single payment. He wanted to arrange to pay in instalments. What should
The unreliable partner
My client, who specialised in the import of local beer originating from his native country in Central America, had entered into a joint venture with a Dutch man in order to finance his business. The parties had set up a general partnership as the basis for their joint venture, though they did
Driver pays for his dishonesty
Some years ago a German couple came to me for assistance. While holidaying in the Netherlands, a Dutch man had driven into their car. Luckily they were unhurt. However, the costs of repairing their car (removing the dents and partial re-spraying) were significant. Immediately after the
The director facing a liability claim
When a foundation doing community work became insolvent, a really nice guy (our client) decided to continue the foundation’s activities through a limited company and purchased the foundation’s fittings and equipment etc. from the liquidator. The community benefited enormously, but
Disagreement between partners
A business partner who frequently takes all the money out of the bank account and transfers it to his own company, refuses to discuss anything and fails to pay tax assessments. These are just some of the problems that my client came to me to seek help with. The partner claimed that he
Keeping a business afloat when the trust is gone
Someone I had encountered earlier in my legal career came to me because of disagreements with his business partner. They had an online shop that was doing very good business, but they no longer trusted one another. From the accuracy of the sales figures to the choice of suppliers, each
Lawyer from famous legal family forced to pay up in the end
Some time ago, I used a bankruptcy application to collect a debt owing to a client by a lawyer who is a member of a well-known family of attorneys. A court judgment had been issued granting the debt claim and no appeal was made, establishing that the debt claimed was due. One of the supporting
Partner’s withdrawal not such a smart move!
If you don’t have enough money to fund your business yourself, there are various ways to obtain the necessary capital. One of these is to set up a limited partnership. This is a partnership with one or more general partners, who are actively involved in running the business, and one or
Enforcing a judgment that should never have been issued
A Dutch company I represented had provided services to a German customer. The invoice that was sent to the customer for this work was not paid. As my client’s standard terms and conditions stated that the services were carried out in the Netherlands, under European legislation we were
Employee refuses termination settlement offered and ends up with less in court
My client was dissatisfied with the performance of one of her employees. A programme of coaching failed to bring about the desired improvement, so she believed that there was no solution but to terminate his employment contract. When my client discussed the situation with the employee, he
The misleading estate agent
My client owned a house together with his wife who was terminally ill. They could not pay the mortgage anymore. One day, my client walked past an estate agent's office. The estate agent accompanied my client to his house, viewed it in five minutes and made an offer, which my client was to
Paid website for antique furniture dealer
A communication agency in the Eindhoven area built a complicated website for an antique furniture dealer. Because the dealer refused to cooperate in providing certain data the website could not be completed. On the basis of the recorded order agreements, the communication agency decided to