Compulsory energy labels on vacuum cleaners must strictly comply with an EU Labelling Regulation. In the case of Dyson Ltd, Dyson BV v BSH Home Appliances NV (C-632/16), the Advocate General of the EU Court of Justice held that there is no leeway within energy label regulations regarding the format or content of energy labels. This means that energy labels must contain only the classification of a vacuum cleaner’s energy consumption as required by the Regulation, and cannot specify the conditions under which the energy tests were performed. In addition, supplementary labels clarifying the information further are not acceptable.

Dyson brought this action against BSH, arguing that BSH’s energy labels were misleading consumers in breach of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive 2005/29/EC, because they did not explain BSH’s tests were carried out with an empty dust bag. Dyson’s own products do not have a dust bag, and so there is no loss of energy efficiency during normal conditions of use. However, BSH’s vacuums do have a dust bag—and therefore Dyson argued become more energy inefficient the more the dust bag is filled. Dyson sought to force BSH to specify its testing conditions on its energy labels, or for its current energy labels to be declared misleading.

The Advocate General found that the specific, standardised information selected to be provided to consumers was a deliberate choice by the EU Legislature. The methodology for measuring energy efficiency of vacuum cleaners is not included in the information to be provided to consumers. Therefore, BSH cannot be required to include additional test procedures on its labels and it is not necessary to consider whether BSH’s current practice is misleading. He concludes that the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive does not apply in situations where a Regulation provides no lee way for the traders involved.

Dyson will have to wait to see if the Court of Justice leaves the competition in the dust.

A link to the decision can be found here.