An international, English-speaking commercial court in Brussels
Following a joint initiative by the Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Koen Geens, today's Council of Ministers approved the draft bill, during its second reading, to create an international, English-speaking commercial court in Brussels. This court, to be called the Brussels International Business Court (BIBC), will deal with international commercial disputes between companies. Until now, companies wishing to deal with a dispute in English had to go to London or to private arbitration. This court will therefore be a first for a non-English-speaking country.
The incorporation of the BIBC is the result of the undeniable increase in international trade in recent decades. An increasing number of contracts are written in English, requiring an English-speaking court capable of settling possible disputes. If Brussels is to become a hub for international business, the players involved must be able to have their legal disputes decided other than by arbitration or before foreign courts.
Companies and Brussels can turn to the International Business Court for disputes involving another company or for a case between a head office and a Belgian subsidiary. According to forecasts, the future Brexit will only increase the number of such disputes. Moreover, Brexit also implies that it will not be easy to bring matters before a London court. Both the handling of the case and the judgment will be in English.
Fast and efficient
If proceedings are initiated, they can proceed quickly and efficiently thanks to the BIBC's specialization. Non-professional judges will sit on the bench and will be selected from experts in the subjects that the BIBC will deal with. This degree of specialisation must guarantee a state-of-the-art and rapid jurisdiction, allowing no appeal.
Proceedings before the Brussels International Business Court will always be initiated following a free decision by mutual agreement between both parties. Finally, BIBC will not be financed from public funds and will be self-financing, in part through the substantial registration fees that will have to be paid by both parties in order to initiate proceedings.
The draft bill was approved by the Council of Ministers at its second reading today.
Koen Geens: "The judiciary is not just about defending the fundamental rights of citizens and our society. It can also serve as a catalyst for our businesses and by extension for the economy. Therefore, we are working hard, in particular to reform and modernise company law. This should strengthen our competitiveness at European and international level. The establishment of BIBC is part of this framework. This court will make Brussels even more attractive to entrepreneurs and investors and will consolidate the reputation of the city, and hence also that of Belgium.
Charles Michel: "The development of the European Union cannot be held back by Brexit. Our country is seizing this momentum to offer a new legal tool.
It is complementary to the existing arbitration options available for international disputes. The competence and independence of our magistrates will contribute to make this new court very attractive. The Federal Public Service of Justice is therefore expanded by a new court, more than forty years after the creation of the labour courts. We want to meet the expectations of international litigants by providing an English-law court in Brussels. It's a leap into modernity."
Philippe Lambrecht, Board Member - Secretary General of FEB: "The BIBC is the result of increased international exchanges. It will act as a complementary channel to the arbitration. The legal industry thus becomes part of an ambitious dynamic of development and service for Brussels and Belgium in Europe and in the world. The creation of this court is therefore an excellent tool for business. It makes Brussels more attractive as a legal centre open to the settlement of international disputes and is likely to strengthen international confidence in our courts.