General conditions 'Geschillencommissie Reizen / Commission de Litiges Voyages'
Article 1: Area of application
These general conditions apply to contracts for the organisation of travel and travel mediation, as covered by the Belgian law of 16 February 1994 (PDF format) governing contracts for the organisation of travel and travel mediation.
Article 2: Promotion
The information in the travel brochure binds the travel organiser or travel mediator that issued the brochure, unless:
Changes to this information have been brought to the attention of the passenger, clearly and in writing, before entering into the contract. The brochure must expressly state this;
Subsequent changes shall arise pursuant to a written agreement between the parties to the contract.
The travel organiser and/or travel mediator can withdraw all or part of his travel promotion for a definite or indefinite duration:
Article 3: Information from the travel organiser and/or travel mediator
The travel organiser and/or travel mediator must:
Before entering into the contract for travel organisation or travel mediation, inform the passengers in writing of:
• The general information regarding passports and visas, and the healthcare formalities required for the travel and stay, so that the passengers can put the necessary documents in order. Passengers of non-Belgian nationality must make enquiries at the relevant embassies or consulates in relation to the administrative formalities that they must fulfil;
• Information on taking out and the content of cancellation and/or assistance insurance;
• The general and special conditions applicable to the contracts.
At the latest 7 calendar days before the departure date, give the passengers the following information in writing:
• Schedules, interim stops and connections, as well as, if possible, the seat to be occupied by the passenger;
• The name, address, telephone, fax number and/or e-mail address of either the local office of the travel organiser and/or mediator, or the local bodies that can help the passenger in the event of difficulties, or the travel mediator or travel organiser directly;
• For the travel and accommodation of minors abroad, information such that direct contact is possible with the child or with the local person who is responsible for his stay.
The period of 7 calendar days stated above shall not apply if the contract is not agreed in time:
Article 4: Information from the passenger
The passenger must give the travel organiser and/or travel mediator all useful information expressly requested of him, or which could reasonably have an effect on the good progress of the trip.
If the passenger provides incorrect information and this leads to extra costs for the travel organiser and/or travel mediator, these costs may be charged for.
Article 5: Coming into existence of the contract
When booking the trip, the travel mediator or organiser is obliged to give the passenger an order form in accordance with the law.
The travel organisation contract comes into existence when the passenger receives written confirmation of the trip he has booked from the travel organiser, via the travel mediator acting on behalf of the travel organiser or otherwise.
If the content of the order form is different to the content of the trip confirmation, or if the confirmation is not given within 21 days of the signature of the order form, then the passenger may assume that the trip has not been booked and the passenger shall be entitled to an immediate refund of all amounts already paid.
Article 6: Price
The price agreed in the contract may not be adjusted, unless expressly stipulated in the contract together with the precise calculation method for it, and insofar the adjustment is the result of a change to:
• The exchange rates applicable to the travel and/or
• The transport costs, including fuel costs and/or
• Duties and taxes due on certain services.
This is on the condition that the said changes shall also give rise to a price reduction.
The price specified in the contract may under no circumstances be increased within 20 calendar days prior to the day of departure.
If the increase exceeds 10% of the total price, the passenger may cancel the contract without compensation. In such a case the passenger shall be entitled to an immediate refund of all amounts he has paid to the travel organiser.
Article 7: Payment of cost of the trip
Unless expressly agreed otherwise, the passenger shall pay, as a down payment upon signature of the order form, a part of the overall or total cost of the trip, as stipulated in the special travel conditions.
If the passenger, after he has first been placed in default, neglects to pay the down payment or the cost of the trip that is claimed from him, the travel organiser and/or travel mediator shall be entitled to automatically terminate the contract with the passenger, with the costs being to the charge of the passenger.
Unless agreed otherwise on the order form, the passenger shall pay the balance of the price at the latest 1 month before the departure date, and provided that the written trip confirmation and/or travel documents are sent to him beforehand or at the same time.
Article 8: Transferability of the booking
The passenger may, before commencing the trip, transfer his trip to a third party, who must however satisfy all conditions of the travel organisation contract. The transferor must inform the travel organiser and, if applicable, the travel mediator, of this transfer in good time before the departure.
The transferring passenger and the acquirer shall be jointly and severally bound to pay the total price of the trip and the costs of the transfer.
Article 9: Other changes by the passenger
If the passenger requests another change, the travel organiser and/or mediator may charge for all costs that this causes.
Article 10: Change by the travel organiser before the departure
If, before commencing the trip, one of the essential points of the contract cannot be performed, the travel organiser must inform the passenger of this as quickly as possible, and in any case before the departure, and must inform him of the possibility to cancel the contract without costs, unless he accepts the change proposed by the travel organiser.
The passenger must inform the travel mediator or travel organiser of his decision as quickly as possible, and in any case before the departure.
If the passenger accepts the change, a new contract or a supplement to the contract must be drawn up stating the changes made and the effect of them on the price.
If the passenger does not accept the change, he may request the application of article 11.
Article 11: Cancellation by the travel organiser before departure
If the travel organiser, before commencing the trip, cancels the contract due to circumstances not attributable to the passenger, the passenger shall have a choice between:
Accepting a new offer of a trip of equal or better quality, without having to pay a supplement: if the replacement trip offered is of a lower quality, the travel organiser must refund the price difference as quickly as possible.
The refund, as quickly as possible, of all amounts paid by him on the grounds of the contract.
If applicable, the passenger may also claim compensation for non-performance of the contract, unless:
The travel organiser cancels the trip because the minimum number of passengers, stipulated in the contract, needed for the trip, has not been reached and the passenger is informed of this in writing, within the period stipulated in the contract and at least 15 calendar days before the departure date;
The cancellation is the result of force majeure, not including overbooking. Force majeure means abnormal and unforeseeable circumstances that are beyond the control of the person invoking it, and the consequences of it cannot be avoided despite all precautionary measures.
Article 12: Entire or partial non-provision of the trip
If during the trip it turns out that a significant part of the services under the contract cannot be provided, the travel organiser shall take all necessary measures to offer the passenger appropriate and free of charge alternatives for the purpose of continuing the trip.
If there is a difference between the intended and actual services provided, he shall compensate the passenger to the level of this difference.
If such an arrangement turns out to be impossible, or if the passenger does not accept these alternatives for good reasons, the travel organiser must provide him with an equivalent means of transport to take him back to the place of departure, and, if applicable, compensate the passenger. t
Article 13: Cancellation by the passenger
The passenger may entirely or partially cancel the contract at any time. If the passenger cancels the contract due to a circumstance attributable to him, he shall compensate for the damage that the travel organiser and/or mediator suffer as a result of the cancellation. The compensation may be determined on an all-inclusive basis in the special conditions or in the travel programme, but may at most be one times the price of the trip.
Article 14: Liability of the travel organiser
The travel organiser is liable for the good performance of the contract, in accordance with the expectations that the passenger may reasonably have on the grounds of the travel organisation contract, and for the obligations arising from the contract, irrespective of whether these obligations are to be performed by himself or by other service providers, and without prejudice to the right of the travel organiser to hold these other service providers liable.
The travel organiser shall be just as liable for the negligence of his employees and representatives, acting in the discharge of their duties, as for his own actions and negligence.
If an international treaty applies to a service included in the travel organisation, the liability of the travel organiser shall be excluded or restricted in accordance with that treaty.
If the travel organiser does not himself provide the services provided in the travel contract, his liability for material damage and the compensation for the loss of travel enjoyment together shall be limited to two times the cost of the trip.
For the rest, articles 18 and 19 of the law of 16 February 1994 apply.
Article 15: Liability of the passenger
The passenger shall be liable for the damage that the travel organiser and/or mediator, their employees and/or their representatives incur as a result of his fault, or if he does not observe his contractual obligations. His fault shall be assessed according to the normal behaviour of a passenger.
Article 16: Settlement of complaints
If the passenger has a complaint before departure, he must submit it to the travel mediator and/or travel organiser as quickly as possible by registered letter or against acknowledgement of receipt.
During the trip:
The passenger must report complaints during contract performance as quickly as possible locally, in an appropriate and probative way, such that a solution can be sought.
To this end he must contact, in this order, a representative of the travel organiser, or a representative of the travel mediator, or the travel mediator directly, or finally the travel organiser directly.
After the trip:
If a complaint was not satisfactorily solved locally, or if it was impossible for the passenger to make the complaint locally, then at the latest one month after the end of the travel contract he must submit a complaint to the travel mediator or otherwise to the travel organiser by registered letter or against proof of receipt.
Article 17: Reconciliation procedure
In the event of a dispute, the parties must first endeavour to reach an amicable settlement.
If this attempt at an amicable settlement fails within a period of 1 to 3 months, each of the parties concerned can ask the secretariat of the Reconciliation Unit of the vzw Geschillencommissie Reizen (Travel Disputes Committee, a non-profit association) to start a reconciliation procedure. All parties have to consent to this.
To this end, the secretariat shall give the parties an information brochure, the reconciliation regulations, and a “reconciliation contract”. As soon as the parties concerned have completed and signed this contract (jointly or separately), and as soon as each party has paid an amount of EUR 50, the reconciliation procedure shall start.
In accordance with the simple procedure described in the regulations, an impartial reconciler shall then contact the parties in order to endeavour to reach an amicable settlement between the parties.
Any agreement reached shall be set out in a binding written contract.
Secretariat of the “Reconciliation Unit”:
Koning Albert II laan 16, 1000 Brussels
Article 18: Arbitration or Court of Law
If no reconciliation procedure is started or if it fails, in principle the plaintiff then has a choice between proceedings in the ordinary courts, or to go through the arbitration procedure in the Geschillencommissie Reizen.
If the amount claimed is EUR 1250 or more, every defendant shall have a period of 10 calendar days to refuse the arbitration requested by the plaintiff by registered letter, after which the dispute may be brought to the ordinary courts. Below EUR 1250, the possibility to refuse arbitration is only open to the passenger.
This arbitration procedure is governed by regulations for disputes, and may only start after no amicable settlement could be reached within a period of 4 months of the (planned) end of the trip (or possibly as of the service giving rise to the dispute). Disputes relating to physical injuries may only be settled by the courts.
In accordance with the regulations for disputes, the jointly composed arbitration committee shall make a binding and final judgement on the travel dispute. No appeal is possible against it.
Secretariat of the arbitration committee, and general secretariat of the Geschillencommissie Reizen:
Koning Albert II laan 16, 1000 Brussels