Belgium updates

Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by ALTIUS
Dawn raid's illegality does not automatically void subsequent request for information
  • Belgium
  • 21 January 2021

The Market Court of the Brussels Court of Appeal recently ruled in a case involving a Belgian telecoms operator, which had been ongoing for more than a decade. In this latest judgment, the Market Court ruled on the effects of a dawn raid's illegality and confirmed the two-step test for determining the same.

BCA suspects Caudalie of imposing minimum resale prices on distributors and limiting active and passive online sales
  • Belgium
  • 14 January 2021

Following dawn raids carried out in 2018, the Belgian Competition Authority's Investigation and Prosecution Service has opened an investigation regarding alleged anti-competitive practices committed by Caudalie, a French cosmetics company specialising in vinotherapy, after a Belgian pharmacist complained that his supplier was imposing a pricing policy on him.

First Belgian ruling on abuse of economic dependence
  • Belgium
  • 03 December 2020

In August 2020 a new act introducing a prohibition on the abuse of economic dependence entered into force in Belgium. In October 2020 the president of the Ghent Commercial Court has issued a judgment in the first abuse of economic dependence case in Belgium. As there is no equivalent prohibition in EU competition law, practitioners have been waiting for case law guidance on how to apply these conditions. However, it is questionable whether this first case provides such valuable guidance.

BCA updates its fining guidelines following entry into force of abuse of economic dependence concept
  • Belgium
  • 08 October 2020

After some last-minute delays, the Royal Decree of 31 July 2020 introduced the concept of abuse of economic dependence in Belgium. Following this royal decree, the Belgian Competition Authority has announced an update to its fining guidelines so that they apply to this new abuse.

BCA and civil courts rule on interim measure requests in football industry
  • Belgium
  • 10 September 2020

As in many other European countries, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Pro League – the Belgian professional football league – to set up an alternative arrangement for the end of the disrupted 2019-2020 football season. Subsequently, football clubs have challenged such decisions to prevent relegation or promotion. In this context, the Belgian Competition Authority and the civil courts recently had to rule on different interim measure requests in the football sector relating to competition law.


Employment & Immigration

Contributed by ALTIUS
Social inspection audits in construction sector: what to expect in 2021
  • Belgium
  • 31 March 2021

The Social Information and Investigation Service (SIOD/SIRS) recently published its 2021 action plan revealing its strategy and top priorities for the year. Similar to recent years, the construction sector remains a target. This article summarises what employers can expect in 2021 and how they can prepare, based on the SIOD/SIRS checklist.

ECJ partially upholds Belgium's docker rules
  • Belgium
  • 10 March 2021

In a long-awaited court ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) confirmed that the Belgian rules on dock work, obliging companies to have only recognised dockers carry out dock work in ports, do not necessarily constitute a violation of the free movement of workers, the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services. However, the ECJ rejected several parts of the recognition procedure of such dockers. Legislative changes are now inevitable.

New National Labour Council collective labour agreement sets framework for COVID-19 teleworking
  • Belgium
  • 17 February 2021

Traditionally, Belgian labour law has distinguished between two forms of telework: structural and occasional telework. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a third category has been added: COVID-19 telework, which was previously recommended but has now been made compulsory again by the government. The National Labour Council has now concluded Collective Labour Agreement Number 149, which creates the legal framework for COVID-19 teleworking.

Occupational doctors' enhanced role in combating COVID-19: contact tracing, quarantine certificates and testing
  • Belgium
  • 10 February 2021

A new royal decree has temporarily extended occupational doctors' role in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace. Occupational doctors will be contact tracers in the workplace and in this context have been given the authority to identify high-risk contacts in the company, issue a quarantine certificate for these workers and refer certain workers to be tested.

Obligations and checks relating to foreign workers and self-employed individuals extended to all sectors and industries
  • Belgium
  • 03 February 2021

As part of measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the government imposed a new record-keeping obligation and compliance check on certain employers and users which temporarily rely on foreign employees or self-employed individuals. The government has extended these obligations to all sectors and industries. In addition, foreign workers and self-employed individuals must, under certain circumstances, provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test.


Healthcare & Life Sciences

Contributed by ALTIUS
Must AstraZeneca supply the European Union with sufficient COVID-19 vaccines under Belgian law?
  • Belgium
  • 10 February 2021

AstraZeneca recently announced that it would reduce the supply of its COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union in the first quarter of 2021 to 31 million doses. Questions have therefore arisen as to what extent AstraZeneca is under a contractual obligation to supply the European Union with the initially planned 80 million doses, and what role its UK manufacturing sites should play in this regard. To answer these questions, this article examines the parties' rights and obligations under Belgian law.

BCA suspects Caudalie of imposing minimum resale prices on distributors and limiting active and passive online sales
  • Belgium
  • 20 January 2021

Following dawn raids carried out in 2018, the Belgian Competition Authority's Investigation and Prosecution Service has opened an investigation regarding alleged anti-competitive practices committed by Caudalie, a French cosmetics company specialising in vinotherapy, after a Belgian pharmacist complained that his supplier was imposing a pricing policy on him.

Which COVID-19 vaccines are on the menu for Belgium?
  • Belgium
  • 23 December 2020

Belgium is following the lead of the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency with respect to its COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The European Commission, on behalf of EU member states, has already concluded six advance purchase agreements with vaccine suppliers for a potential total of almost 2 billion doses. Belgium's share presently amounts to a total of 22.4 million vaccines. Purchasing is expected to begin in early January 2021.

Can parallel importers rebrand generic medicines?
  • Belgium
  • 04 November 2020

If a branded medicine and its generic version are put on the EEA market by economically linked undertakings, is a parallel importer then allowed to rebrand and repackage the imported generic version as the branded reference medicine? This issue recently led the Brussels Court of Appeal to refer three questions to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In anticipation of the ECJ's ruling, this article provides the factual background and explains why a parallel importer should not be allowed to rebrand in such cases.

BCA confirms that merger control rules apply to creation of loco-regional hospital networks
  • Belgium
  • 12 August 2020

The Belgian Competition Authority's (BCA's) latest note reiterates that competition law rules concerning merger control fully apply to the creation of local hospital networks as required under the Act of 28 February 2019. Although hospitals seem largely unaware of the obligations under the merger control rules attached to such forms of cooperation, they should consider that the BCA is paying more attention to the sector and that significant penalties may be incurred for non-compliance.


Insolvency & Restructuring

Government measures to assist companies during COVID-19 pandemic – interview
  • Belgium
  • 12 June 2020

Due to the lockdown measures and other restrictions imposed by the government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are dealing with revenue losses while having the same level of (fixed) costs. In this video, Bart Heynickx, counsel at ALTIUS, discusses various insolvency issues that are arising in Belgium as a result of COVID-19.

Is my business automatically protected against creditors during COVID-19 crisis?
  • Belgium
  • 08 May 2020

Due to the lockdown measures and other restrictions imposed by the government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are dealing with revenue losses while having the same level of (fixed) costs. Royal Decree No 15, which recently entered into force, implements new temporary measures to protect businesses that had not ceased payment before or on 18 March 2020 but found themselves in difficulty afterwards due to the COVID-19 crisis. These measures will last until 17 May 2020, unless extended.

Limits to privileged claims
  • Belgium
  • 28 February 2020

A Supreme Court judgment has clarified that new financing during reorganisation proceedings in principle results in new claims, leading to a privileged status of such claims in the framework of any subsequent liquidation. Further, it confirms that the courts require financing to be actual and new (ie, mere refinancing is insufficient).

Clawback: chasing assets
  • Belgium
  • 13 December 2019

The legal form of the actio pauliana offers options for creditors which are confronted with debtors that are disposing of important assets or organising their insolvency. This article reflects on some of the options offered under Belgian law by the actio pauliana, commonly referred to in English as the 'clawback' rules.

Effect of EU preventive restructuring directive on Belgian insolvency framework
  • Belgium
  • 18 October 2019

A number of legislative changes to Book XX of the Code of Economic Law may be required following the adoption of EU Directive 2019/1023/EU on preventive restructuring frameworks. This article focuses on the directive's potential effect on Book XX with regard to debtors in possession, the duration of moratoria, the suspension of enforcement during moratoria, the suspension and termination of ongoing contracts, the cramdown of creditors and the acceptance of reorganisation plans.


Intellectual Property

Contributed by GEVERS
Laboratoire de la Mer and Omega Pharma in disguised trademark infringement claim procedure
  • Belgium
  • 28 September 2020

This article has been removed at the request of the contributing firm.