Belgian Government Approves Draft Bill for Establishment of Brussels International Business Court
On 27 October 2017, the Belgian government approved a draft bill for the creation of a Brussels International Business Court (the BIBC). As its name suggests, the BIBC will have jurisdiction to deal with international business and commercial disputes between companies or corporations.
With this initiative the Belgian government aims to enhance Belgian competitiveness and attractiveness at both EU and international levels and make Brussels a fast-growing hub for international dispute resolution. The establishment of the BIBC therefore complements the Belgian Centre for Arbitration (CEPANI)’s efforts in promoting Brussels as a key centre for arbitration (as demonstrated by the recently launched online platform providing assistance in organising arbitration proceedings in Brussels).
The main characteristics of the BIBC are the following:
– The working language of the BIBC will be English (meaning that written submissions, pleadings and judgments will be rendered in that language). The choice of English as functioning language constitutes a novelty in Belgian judicial law, as only the three official Belgian languages (French, Dutch and German) have been officially used and recognised by the Belgian courts until now;
– The BIBC will be staffed with both professional judges and legal experts (i.e. non-professional judges) from domestic and foreign jurisdictions;
– Jurisdiction of the BIBC will be based on mutual consent between parties;
– The judgments handed down by the BIBC will, in principle, not be subject to appeal, with the exception of an appeal on points of law before the Belgian Supreme Court;
– The BIBC’s rules of procedure will be based mutatis mutandis on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration;
– The BIBC should be self-financing (meaning that the court fees are likely to be higher than the levels currently prevailing before regular Belgian courts);
The Belgian government will soon submit the draft bill to the Belgian Council of State for advice. The draft bill will then be submitted to the Belgian Parliament for discussion and approval. It is only after the bill is approved by the Belgian Parliament and ratified by the King that the BIBC will officially be launched.