This ends an extreme case of principle character as to whether a company established abroad can be prosecuted according to the Danish Marketing Practices Act.
The Dutch mail order company has been in the full blaze of the Danish Consumer Ombudsman Hagen Joergensen for a number of years. The company would neither adopt the Danish nor the Dutch authorities' suggestion of making the marketing legal. An intervention by the Dutch authorities was not possible as the marketing was not aimed at the Dutch market. In Denmark the police and the Public Prosecutor found that an intervention made by the Danish courts against a company abroad was problematic but the Consumer Ombudsman was assured by the Director of Public Prosecutions that a case could be proceeded by trial.
After years of tug-of-war Bakker has accepted the fine in the Copenhagen Maritime and Commercial Court and in the future the marketing in Denmark must be legalized after having discussed the matter with the Consumer Ombudsman.
Prizes of trifling value
As a part of its marketing the company has addressed letters and catalogues directly to the consumers. The company has made extensive use of lotteries where the proof of the prize has been filled out with the name of the consumer in advance. The information is incorrect and the method is misleading as the consumer will receive the impression of having won a big prize even though it is highly probable that the prize is of trifling value. Moreover, Bakker has used collateral gifts - in other words given presents which were conditional on purchase.
The Consumer Ombudsman has declared himself very satisfied with the closing of the Bakker-case. "It has been a long case but of great principal importance. Further we expect that in the future the company will comply with the Marketing Practices Act in Denmark. The case is also an important starting point for new cases especially in the light of the fast development of distant selling where marketing and trade are surging on the Internet", Hagen Joergensen says.
EU-rules are on the way
From the very beginning the International Marketing Supervision Network - of which the Consumer Ombudsman is one of the founding members - has been very interested in this case. Moreover, there is a proposal for a directive on injunction for the consumers' interests on the way on behalf of the EU which in the future will ease the work of the authorities with this kind of cases about unethical marketing across the borders. The directive is supposed to enable for instance the Consumer Ombudsman to bring an action of prohibition against a company in the country in which it is located.