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This material will be useful to our clients who are interested in dispute settlement through arbitration in Belgium.

The place of arbitration depends on the arbitration legislation of which country will apply to a particular arbitration. This, in turn, affects the conditions for appealing the arbitral award. It should be borne in mind that the rules of most European international arbitration courts, in particular at the European Arbitration Chamber, contain provisions that the court has the right to hold sessions and hearings in any geographical location. In this case, the arbitral award will have the same effect as if it had been made in the official place of arbitration.

When you decide to initiate arbitration proceedings in Belgium, please note that this jurisdiction does not distinguish between domestic and foreign arbitration.

Choosing the right place

Today, when choosing the place of arbitration, the parties to the dispute pay attention to factors such as:

  • geographical location;
  • costs to support the arbitration process;
  • promptness of the arbitration proceedings;
  • language;
  • the possibility of obtaining a visa to the country.

Before determining the place of arbitration in the arbitration clause or agreement, it is worth considering how effective the choice will be, since the points that are not covered by the rules of the selected institution will be regulated by the arbitration legislation of the place of arbitration.

Features of Belgian arbitration legislation

Recently, Belgium has become increasingly popular as a place of arbitration. It is preferred, first of all, by representatives of the EU member states, Arab states and countries of South-East Asia.

Belgium is a party to most of the major international agreements on arbitration, after which Belgium introduced a simplified compulsory procedure for foreign arbitral awards and acquired a guarantee that the decisions were international arbitration tribunals under Belgian jurisdiction will be recognized and enforced in 134 countries.

Belgian arbitration is based on the Strasbourg Convention which is contained in the Belgian Judicial Code.

We would like to inform those planning to initiate legal proceedings through arbitration in Belgium that the arbitration law in this jurisdiction is not limited to commercial arbitration. 

Arbitration agreement

There are restrictions on the right to submit a dispute to arbitration in Belgium, which relate to disputes such as:

  • labor;
  • insurance;
  • regarding obtaining patent licenses in Belgium;
  • consumer protection;
  • on termination of exclusive distribution agreements;
  • commercial agency disputes.

Belgian law is quite liberal with regard to the arbitration procedure or to arbitration agreements. Such agreements can be oral if evidence of their existence is established.

Start arbitration in Belgium

It is possible to initiate proceedings in a commercial dispute in Belgium by filing a request for arbitration at the place of residence, legal address, main place of work or e-mail address of the defendant. The arbitral tribunal can decide on a case on the basis of documents.

If you choose to initiate arbitration in Belgium, please note that local courts can intervene at several stages of the arbitration:

  • appoint arbitrators;
  • issue an order to recall the arbitrator, to challenge the arbitrator;
  • set a time limit within which the arbitrator can make a decision.

Mechanisms for involving third parties in arbitration, such as recruiting additional parties or consolidation, may be used in Belgian arbitration if all interested parties have agreed to do so. 

For more information, please consult a Belgian arbitration lawyer at IQ Decision UK.

Termination of proceedings and appeal

Arbitration proceedings in Belgium may be terminated by the arbitral tribunal. Here, we would also like to note that a civil court can only apply for cancellation of an arbitral award in Belgium if at least one of the parties has its place of residence or legal address of a commercial enterprise or branch in Belgium. Refusal to appeal against an arbitral award in a Belgian civil court entails a reduction in the number of instances in which the decision made can be appealed, and judicial control at the place where the arbitral award is rendered is literally reduced to zero.

If you are interested in alternative methods of resolving business disputes in Belgium, please contact our specialists for advice. Please note, in addition to resolving Belgian arbitration disputes, solicitors at IQ Decision UK provide advice on resolving financial disputes through mediation in Belgium.