Belgium

A look at corporate, personal and, where relevant, partnership insolvency proceedings in Belgium, with a brief description to explain key features, as part of our Dictionary of Insolvency Terms in EU Member States. In particular, we highlight who controls the procedure and whether it is likely to be accompanied by a moratorium to prevent enforcement.



Gerechtelijke reorganisatie door een minnelijk akkoord (Dutch)
La réorganisation judiciaire par accord amiabale (French)

Judicial reorganisation through an amicable settlement

  • A debtor facing financial difficulties may initiate a judicial reorganisation procedure that comprises a debt restructuring scheme under the supervision of the court. The debtor will be granted a moratorium and remains in control of its affairs.
  • Available to all businesses (natural person, partnership, company or even an association in certain circumstances).

The judicial reorganisation procedure may take three possible routes. The debtor chooses the most appropriate and can apply to the court at any time to change the route it takes.

1. Amicable settlement: provides for the debtor to agree a payment plan with a group (two or more) of its creditors.


Gerechtelijke reorganisatie door een collectief akkoord (Dutch)
Réorganisation judiciaire par accord collectif (French)

Judicial reorganisation through a collective settlement

2. Collective settlement: the second route provides for the debtor to propose a payment plan to its general body of creditors.

If a majority of creditors vote in favour, and the court sees no reason not to approve it, the plan will be binding on all creditors.


Gerechtelijke reorganisatie door overdracht onder gerechtelijk gezag (Dutch)
Réorganisation judiciaire par transfert sous autorité de justice (French)

Judicial reorganisation through a transfer of assets under court supervision

3. Transfer of assets under court supervision: the third and most drastic option provides for the transfer (sale) of the debtor's assets either in whole or in part by a court-appointed administrator. The administrator must give priority to preserving the debtor's business.


Ondernemingsbemiddelaar (Dutch)
Médiateur d'entreprise (French)

Business mediator

  • A debtor can apply to court to appoint a business mediator to assist in facilitating a reorganisation, both within and outside the context of a judicial reorganisation.
  • Possible but rarely used for natural persons.


Voorlopig bewindvoerder, voorlopig bestuurder or mandataris ad hoc (Dutch)
Administrateur provisoire or mandataire ad hoc (French)

Provisional administrator

  • In a number of situations, for example serious disagreement between a company's shareholders that paralyses the company or serious misconduct by the management, the court can, upon request of any interested party, transfer the management of some or all of the business to a provisional administrator.
  • It can do so both in the context of a judicial reorganisation (for which there are express statutory provisions) or outside the scope of a judicial reorganisation through a measure developed by case law. This decision as such does not affect the rights of creditors.
  • Possible but rarely used for natural persons.


Gerechtsmandataris (Dutch)
Mandataire de justice (French)

Court-appointed administrator

  • If the debtor is subject to a judicial reorganisation and the court concludes it has been seriously mismanaged, it may install and determine the role and duration of appointment of a court appointed administrator.
  • The decision does not in itself have any bearing on the rights of the creditors.
  • Possible but rarely used for natural persons.


Minnelijk akkoord (Dutch)
Accord amiable (French)

Amicable settlement

  • At any time and outside the scope of formal reorganisation a debtor can agree a payment plan with some or all of its creditors. If the plan is concluded with two or more creditors and the debtor files it with the court registry, the plan and any payments made pursuant to it are protected against clawback actions by a receiver in the event the debtor is subsequently declared bankrupt.


Faillissement (Dutch)
Faillite (French)

Bankruptcy

  • A debtor (both natural persons and corporations) can be declared bankrupt if: (i) it has ceased to pay its debts; and (ii) is no longer creditworthy. The Public Prosecutor or any creditor may apply to the court for such an order and the debtor is obliged to do so within one month after having come to the conclusion that it is in a state of bankruptcy.
  • The court will appoint a receiver (curator in Dutch, curateur in French) charged with the administration and liquidation of the bankruptcy estate and the distribution of the proceeds.
  • In principle bankruptcy does not prevent secured creditors from enforcing their rights.


Vrijwillige vereffening (Dutch)
Liquidation volontaire (French)

Voluntary liquidation

  • A general meeting of shareholders decides to dissolve the company or association and put it into liquidation. A liquidator (vereffenaar in Dutch, liquidateur in French) is appointed to realise the assets and distribute the proceeds between creditors.
  • More flexible than bankruptcy (e.g. shareholders choose the liquidator, less court control).
  • In principle, voluntary liquidation does not prevent secured creditors from enforcing their rights.


Gerechtelijke vereffening (Dutch)
Liquidation judiciaire (French)

Judicial liquidation

  • At the request of shareholders, the Public Prosecutor or any interested party, the court can order the dissolution and liquidation of the debtor. The court appoints a liquidator (gerechtelijk vereffenaar in Dutch, liquidateur judiciaire in French) to realise the assets and distribute the proceeds between creditors. 
  • In principle, liquidation does not prevent secured creditors from enforcing their rights.


Voorlopige ontneming van het beheer, bepaald in artikel 8 van de faillissementswet (Dutch)
Dessaisissement provisoire visé à l’article 8 de la loi sur les faillites (French)

Provisional administration pursuant to Article 8 of the Bankruptcy Act

  • If the court finds that there are strong indications that the company is in a state of bankruptcy, the court can, on the application of any interested party or even of its own motion, decide to transfer the management for a limited period of time to a provisional administrator. 
  • The procedure is similar to the provisional administrator procedure.


Collectieve schuldenregeling (Dutch)
Règlement collectif de dettes (French)

Collective debt settlement

  • Any natural person that is not conducting business activities may apply to the court to have a debt mediator (schuldbemiddelaar in Dutch, médiateur de dettes in French) appointed who will be in charge of the administration of that person's assets. Natural persons that are conducting business that does not meet the definition of "commercial" can also resort to the collective debt settlement.
  • The debt mediator will try to agree a payment plan with creditors. If that proves to be unsuccessful, the mediator can, with the approval of the court, impose either a payment plan or even (partial or complete) discharge of the debtor's debts.
  • The enforcement of security rights is suspended during the procedure.


Secured creditor enforcement procedures

  • Enforcement of a mortgage or pledge, does not, in principle, require the intervention or approval of the court, unless the pledgor or mortgagor is a consumer. The court's role is limited to an optional control a posteriori
  • Enforcement of a mortgage, however, requires the intervention of a notary public, who will have to be officially designated by the court. 
  • As regards enforcement of personal or corporate guarantees, a creditor is always required to apply to the court for an order that the guarantor pays the sums due.

Anticipated changes in the next two years

The EU Directive on Restructuring and Insolvency1  requires Member States to incorporate minimum common standards into their national restructuring and insolvency laws by 17 July 2021. The intention of the Directive is to reduce barriers to the free flow of capital stemming from differences in Member States’ restructuring and insolvency frameworks, and to enhance the rescue culture in the EU.

Notable features required to be included in Member States' national laws include: 

  • An effective preventive restructuring framework to enable debtors experiencing financial difficulties to restructure at an early stage, with a view to preventing insolvency and ensuring their viability.
  • A stay of up to four months extendable to up to 12 months to support negotiations of a restructuring proposal, which should prevent individual enforcement action and include rules preventing the withholding of performance, termination, acceleration or modification of essential contracts.
  • An ability to cram down dissenting classes of creditors.
  • Adequate protection for financing needed to allow the business to survive or to preserve the value of the business pending a restructuring, and for new financing necessary to implement a restructuring plan.
  • Provision for honest, insolvent entrepreneurs to have access to a procedure that can lead to a full discharge of their debts (subject to limited exceptions) within three years.

Contact: Ilse Van de Mierop


1 Directive (EU) 2019/1023 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on preventive restructuring frameworks, on discharge of debt and disqualifications, and on measures to increase the efficiency of procedures concerning restructuring, insolvency and discharge of debt, and amending Directive (EU) 2017/1132.