Belgium boasts a quality charter for tombstones since March 2019

Tombstones are often intricate and costly natural stone products. Photo by Cimitero Monumentale, Milan, 2019.

Members of the Natural Stone Group within the Trade Organization of Builders has pledged to take quick action in case of damage

Belgium boasts a quality charter since March 2019 first presented at the Fair Funebra. The Charter was created by the Trade Organization Conferatie Bouw. Note that it does not dictate technological rules and norms as one might expect but rather finds means to solve conflicts between clients and companies.

Quality of goods or services is seen as a social obligation.

The lack of technological rules and regulations is possible because only members of the Builders Organization could be accredited for the Charter (in Dutch: kwaliteitscharter voor grafmonumenten) and they are subject to strict rules anyway.

It’s more about problem cases, e.g. when crack or chips become apparent in stone or when damage is done while moving a stone, or if decorative elements break or suffer damage.

According to the quality charter, the companies stand under the obligation to repair damage free of charge. Of course, there are limits, e.g. in case of willful damage or third-party responsibility.

But despite these self-imposed rules, conflicts can arise. So, the charter also provides rules and a body for arbitration: a mediator can be agreed by both sides and both parties pay the fee. Should a party seek legal counsel he pays the fee for his own lawyer.

The arrangement is meant to provide light at the end of the tunnel of trouble and save both parties money.

Accreditation requires documentation of business activities in the specialized field, e.g. working or carving of gravestones. In this way the Organization hopes to avoid any non-related businesses from adorning themselves with borrowed plumes. „All must play by the rules“, as an insider put it.

The members must therefore also provide proof that they do business according to economic and social norms, have no tax debts and have been in business for over three years already – of course they must also be members of the building organization.

Accreditation itself is free of charge as is the yearly renewal.

A total of 10 companies have attained accreditation thus far.

The Confederatie Bow is the umbrella Organization of the Belgian building industry. The subgroup for natural stone (Fédération Belge des Entrepreneurs de la Pierre Naturelle, asbl) counts 200 members.

Quality Charter (Dutch, French)

Confederatie Bouw Natuursteen (Dutch/French)

(25.09.2019, USA: 09.25.2019)