Born in Brugge, 1977; Admitted, 2001, Brussels.
University of Leuven (Lic. Jur., 2000); University of Stellenbosch, South-Africa (International Exchange Programme, 1999); Aston Business School, UK (M.Sc. in International Business, 2001).
Dutch, French and English.
The Pre-contractual Information in the Framework of Commercial Cooperation Agreements Act 2005 protects the economically weaker party in certain commercial partnership agreements. Although this legislation is not unique, it often gives rise to surprise, disbelief and specific questions.
The Unilateral Termination of Exclusive Distribution Agreements of Indefinite Duration Act will soon celebrate its 50th anniversary. The act grants Belgian distributors significant protection against unwanted or early termination of distribution agreements. However, since the act became law, the protection it offers to distributors has gradually been eroded.
The UNIDROIT Convention on International Factoring is in force in Belgium. It governs the assignment, by a supplier to a factor, of receivables arising from commercial contracts for the sale of goods (including the supply of services) between the supplier and its customers. Although its regime is largely uncontroversial, one aspect - the overruling of 'no assignment' clauses - has been the subject of a government declaration.
The Supreme Court has ruled that circumstances which were not reasonably foreseeable at the time of the conclusion of an agreement and which increase the burden of the agreement disproportionately can, in certain circumstances, be considered an 'impediment' within the meaning of Article 79 of the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods.
Belgium is unusual in having a specific legal regime for the termination of certain distribution agreements. Foreign manufacturers often view the law as over-generous to distributors, especially when facing substantial claims before a Belgian court, but understanding the scope and effect of the law when drafting an agreement can prevent a manufacturer from being caught out.
The government recently undertook steps to modernise and broaden its insolvency legal framework and submitted a proposal to Parliament intended to introduce a new chapter to the Code of Economic Law. The proposal will update the Bankruptcy Act and the Business Continuity Act. The government proposal will be discussed in Parliament in the coming weeks and could be accepted before the summer recess.
Franchisees are often unable to fulfil their payment obligations. The special cooperative relationship between a franchisor and its franchisee usually leads to negotiations and contractual agreements between the parties regarding the repayment of accumulated debts. However, the franchisee may still become insolvent. A key question is whether showing leniency in the context of insolvency proceedings will be beneficial or detrimental to a franchisor.
The Business Continuity Act of January 31 2009, amended in 2013, provides for specific (court-supervised) restructuring proceedings, during which the company (or debtor) is protected against its creditors' claims so that it can reorganise its business. For debtors, one of the act's major advantages is its 'open-gate' approach. In essence, this approach means that court protection is granted if the company's continuity is threatened and the debtor files a request in this regard.
Suppliers are often surprised by their customers' insolvency and only at that moment discover that the goods that they delivered are unpaid. Even when a reservation of title has been inserted into the contract, the repossession of goods can be difficult in practice. Measures that can help the recovery process include ensuring that a reservation of title clause is clearly drafted and that each single good is identifiable.
Historically, Belgian insolvency legislation has applied only to entities involved in commercial activities. However, recent jurisprudence and upcoming legislative changes will result in important amendments that are intended to broaden the scope of existing legislation. As a result, entities that are involved in commercial or entrepreneurial activity will be eligible to benefit from bankruptcy legislation.