Latest updates

Incentives and public procurement in the healthcare sector: be careful what you wish for
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 23 October 2019

The Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products recently issued a circular letter reminding the different actors in the Belgian healthcare sector that incentives in the course of public procurement procedures should be considered carefully. Further, the circular letter underlined the risk of contravening the ban on receiving gifts, monetary advantages or benefits and public procurement rules.

Effect of EU preventive restructuring directive on Belgian insolvency framework
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • 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.

New Maritime Code: what about arrest of sea-going ships?
Kegels & Co
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Belgium
  • 29 May 2019

The Chamber of Representatives recently enacted the new Maritime Code. Whereas the substantive rules on the arrest on sea-going ships will be directly governed by the International Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules Relating to the Arrest of Sea-Going Ships 1952, the procedures governing how to obtain an arrest authorisation will not fundamentally change. Belgium will remain a favourable place to arrest sea-going ships in order to obtain security for unpaid maritime claims.

Will ECJ decision on Belgian insolvency proceedings lead to increased redundancies?
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 24 May 2019

The European Court of Justice recently confirmed that the Belgian reorganisation framework infringes the EU Transfer of Undertakings Directive with regard to the transfer of personnel. This judgment looks set to have a significant impact on reorganisation proceedings, with parties more likely to be reluctant to organise a transfer of assets leading to bankruptcies and redundancies.

Changes ahoy! New Maritime Code enacted
Kegels & Co
  • Shipping & Transport
  • Belgium
  • 24 April 2019

The Chamber of Representatives recently enacted the new Maritime Code, which will replace – to a large extent, but not completely – numerous provisions in several existing codes. The new code is over 470 pages long and consequently cannot be explained in a few lines; however, this article highlights some of the major changes that will be introduced in relation to existing legislation.

Licence to contract – licence agreements and insolvency law
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 19 April 2019

In an insolvency situation, the fate of ongoing contracts is something to be discussed. Such contracts are often closely linked to the essence of a company's business. For example, for (commercial) leases, a lessor's bankruptcy or a tenant's judicial reorganisation will probably result in discussions about the agreement, its (forced) execution and rental payments. If a company's activities are based on patent or software licences, the effect on these agreements will also be of crucial importance.

Desperate times call for ex parte interim measures in patent disputes
ALTIUS
  • Intellectual Property
  • Belgium
  • 18 March 2019

Preliminary injunctions are rarely granted on an ex parte basis in Belgium and adversarial debates are considered a cornerstone of legal proceedings which can be deviated from only in cases of absolute necessity. However, ex parte interim measures have been granted in at least four patent disputes in Belgium in recent years, which helps to shed light on the circumstances under which patentees can consider them to be a measure of last resort to stop a threat of infringement.

Express recognition and clarification of trade secret protection in Belgium
ALTIUS
  • Intellectual Property
  • Belgium
  • 11 February 2019

On 30 July 2018 the Belgian legislature transposed the EU Trade Secrets Directive into domestic law via the Trade Secret Law. The Trade Secret Law is welcomed, as no general regulatory framework regarding trade secrets previously existed in Belgium. It remains to be seen how the law will be used and applied in practice, but it is an essential means in effectively appropriating, protecting and exploiting innovation by providing trade secret holders with the tools to protect valid trade secrets.

Is ECJ jurisprudence torpedoing Belgian insolvency law?
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 08 February 2019

The European Court of Justice appears likely to rule that the Belgian reorganisation framework infringes the EU Transfer of Undertakings Directive with regard to the transfer of personnel. If the option to transfer only a portion of staff is no longer available in Belgian reorganisation proceedings, companies will have no choice but to formally file for bankruptcy, which is exactly the issue that the legislature and the labour unions had hoped to avoid when introducing this mechanism into Belgian law.

Anti-tampering devices – fading boundaries of parallel trade?
ALTIUS
  • Healthcare & Life Sciences
  • Belgium
  • 06 February 2019

A legislative package aimed at fighting falsified medicines will enter into force in the European Union in early 2019. This EU legal framework was transposed into Belgian law through the Medicines Act and the Royal Decree concerning Medicines for Human and Veterinary Use. As a result, pharmaceutical companies will be required to affix a so-called 'anti-tampering device' on all prescription medicinal products to allow verification of whether the packaging has been tampered with.

Legislation on passenger name records amended
  • Aviation
  • Belgium
  • 06 February 2019

The Council of Ministers recently approved preliminary draft legislation amending the Passenger Data Processing Act. Among other things, the proposed changes concern the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data, data exchanges and the cross-checking of passenger data following the identification of suspicious passengers. The changes aim to bring the act into line with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

Effects of bankruptcy on spouses' personal debts
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 07 December 2018

The former Bankruptcy Statute of 1997 included a principle that a natural person could be discharged of their remaining and outstanding debts – a so-called 'waiver' – at the moment of a bankruptcy's closure. The discharge's beneficial effects were extended to the bankrupt person's spouse. However, for bankruptcies that have happened since 1 May 2018, and so fall under the new legal framework, this situation has changed.

Follow-up monitoring of companies in financial difficulty
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 07 September 2018

The legislature recently took steps to improve the follow-up monitoring of companies in financial difficulty and strengthen the fight against inactive companies. To determine whether companies are in financial difficulty, the courts gather information from various (digital) sources. However, the focus remains on preventive mechanisms – namely, identifying companies in financial difficulty and following up with court action.

Brussels Commercial Court rules that SABAM abused its dominant position
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 02 August 2018

It is often difficult to clearly demonstrate an abuse of a dominant position by way of excessive pricing. Nevertheless, the Brussels Commercial Court recently seemed to have little doubt that the Belgian Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers' (SABAM's) increased tariffs for concerts and music festivals constituted an abuse of its dominant position. However, what is more interesting is that the court also considered SABAM's existing practice to constitute an abuse of its dominant position.

Personal bankruptcy of company administrators
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 27 July 2018

The Belgian insolvency law's scope was recently broadened. As of 1 May 2018, all entities that are involved in commercial or entrepreneurial activities can be declared bankrupt (or enter into court-supervised reorganisation proceedings). Discussion has started about whether company administrators can also be seen as being 'involved in an entrepreneurial activity' and thus declared bankrupt.

Trademarks versus artistic freedom of expression: milestone referral for preliminary ruling
ALTIUS
  • Intellectual Property
  • Belgium
  • 09 July 2018

In a high-profile trademark infringement case involving Moët Hennessey Champagne Services and a Belgian painter, the courts were asked to strike a balance between the right to property, including intellectual property, and artistic freedom of expression. The decision is expected to set an important precedent on how to strike a fair balance between freedom of speech and the protection of trademarks when these two concepts conflict.

Insolvency goes digital: Regsol and its innovations
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 15 June 2018

The digitisation of different insolvency proceedings (ie, bankruptcies, judicial reorganisations and company voluntary agreements) recently reached a new milestone. All new insolvency files must now be commenced through the Central Solvency Register (Regsol) and followed up on the same system. Regsol offers a number of new features, including the electronic storage of insolvency files and a new declaration of debt form.

Relationship between privileged and secured creditors
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 04 May 2018

If reorganisation proceedings are unsuccessful and lead to bankruptcy proceedings, creditors with new claims resulting from services performed during the reorganisation proceedings often find it difficult to receive payment of their privileged claims when they are in competition with a general pledge on the debtor's estate that is held by a bank. The Supreme Court's recent judgment in this regard will help such privileged creditors to receive payment from the bankrupt estate.

Competition College refuses to initiate Phase II investigation of Volvo's acquisition of Kant
  • Competition & Antitrust
  • Belgium
  • 22 March 2018

The Competition College recently refused to initiate a Phase II investigation and approved Volvo Group Belgium's acquisition of various companies belonging to the Kant group, despite concerns that the transaction was likely to result in competition issues. This case demonstrates that a hearing before the Competition College is not just a formality and that parties can successfully contest a prosecutor's findings.

Stricter scrutiny of inactive companies
ALTIUS
  • Insolvency & Restructuring
  • Belgium
  • 02 February 2018

The legislature recently took steps to improve the follow-up monitoring of companies in financial difficulty and strengthen the fight against inactive companies. Companies that fail to pay their social security or value added tax debts, file their annual accounts or fulfil other administrative obligations on time will now appear on the radar of the Commercial Court's Investigative Services much earlier. The services' recently extended powers of action could lead to unfortunate surprises for some companies.