A general prohibition of all advertising for oral and dental care services is not compatible with EU law. This was the judgement handed down by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on 4 May 2017 (Case C-339/15).
Dispute in main proceedings
The underlying dispute in the main proceedings is the result of a complaint by a professional association against a Belgian dentist who advertised his dental services on websites and through advertisements in local newspapers. In the criminal proceedings brought against him, he was accused of violating the Belgian prohibition on the advertising of oral and dental care services.
The ECJ stated in its ruling that advertising, including via a website, initiated by a member of a regulated profession is ‘commercial communication’ and that this represents an information society service as defined by Directive 2000/31/EC on e-commerce. Professional rules may restrict this form of communication but may not prohibit it without exception. Such a prohibition infringes upon the freedom to provide services (Article 56 TFUE).
The ECJ’s ruling can be found by clicking on this link.